Since slumping to defeat in front of their own fans at the inaugural FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup in May, the Brazilians have been champing at the bit to get back in action and set the record straight. That desire to prove their true worth was made abundantly clear in various exhibition tournaments, but it still remained to be seen how the Auriverdes would perform in a competitive environment.

With that in mind, the Mundialito in the Algarve town of Portimao looked to be the perfect opportunity for Brazil to heal their wounds. And from the very first match, Jorginho and Co signalled their intent with a 8-0 triumph over a Spanish side clearly on the wane. Undoubtedly one of the global powers just two years ago, Amarelle and his team-mates now find themselves a long way behind beach soccer's big three: Brazil, France and Portugal. As if to prove it, the two other giants of the discipline were also leaving their mark on the opening day of the tournament, although world champions France needed to dig a little deeper than they would have liked to overcome Argentina 6-5. 

After the second round of games were negotiated without any trouble by the favourites, the spotlight shifted onto a mouth-watering clash between Brazil and Les Bleus, the highlight of the last matches in the group stage. Many expected to witness a shift in power from the Brazilian headmaster to the French pupil, but nothing could have been further from the truth. Instead, a typically fervent display from the Auriverdes left France compelled to admit the superiority of their opponents (5-7).

World champions disappoint
With four teams going through, the first round ultimately confirmed the supremacy of the leading trio, as well as pointing to the growing potential of the Ukrainians, whose reward was a semi-final clash with Brazil. But while that encounter seemed to promise little suspense, the second semi-final caught the imagination of local fans still smarting from events on Copacabana beach. Almost three months to the day after the Seleçao lost the final of the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup Rio de Janeiro 2005 on penalties, Ze Miguel's men were understandably desperate for revenge on their French conquerors.

And the fates seemed to be smiling on the teams with a point to prove, as Brazil raced to an 8-1 victory while the Portuguese came away with a gratifying 7-3 win. For Eric Cantona's Bleus, it was another frustrating reverse to add to their lacklustre displays in the European League, and they seem to have fallen back down to earth with a thud since their heroics in Rio. A 7-6 success over Ukraine ensured they left Portimao with a respectable third-place finish, but it was nonetheless a bitterly disappointing campaign for a team capable of so much more.

France's woes will not have worried the two finalists for long, however, and the atmosphere was electric as Brazil and Portugal prepared to lock horns for the trophy. In keeping with the rest of the tournament, the Brazilians eventually came out on top with some ease, driven by a passionate desire to avenge their semi-final penalty shoot-out loss to the Portuguese in Rio de Janeiro. Their defence was in dangerously generous mood and they conceded four times, but the blistering power of their attacking play saw them home to lift the 10th Beach Soccer Mundialito with a convincing 9-4 score-line. 

As the crowds went home, the major protagonists will have no doubt looked back on the tournament with contrasting emotions. For Brazil, there is the joy of having returned themselves to the top of the pile, while the Portuguese can content themselves with having come close to celebrating a famous triumph in front of their own supporters. France, on the other hand, will have to halt their slide if they are to stand any chance of retaining their world crown. The European League final gets underway on Prado beach in Marseille between 26 and 28 August, and it could be just the occasion to renew themselves with winning ways.


Group A
Portugal 7 - 2 Netherlands
Uruguay 5 - 6 Ukraine
Portugal 4 - 2 Ukraine
Uruguay 5 - 3 Netherlands
Portugal 3 - 1 Uruguay
Ukraine 6 - 7 Netherlands

Standings: Portugal (9 points), Ukraine (3 pts), Uruguay (3 pts, but lost to Ukraine), Netherlands (2 pts)

Group B
Brazil 8 - 0 Spain
France 6 - 5 Argentina
Brazil 8 - 3 Argentina
France 7 - 2 Spain
France 5 - 7 Brazil
Spain 5 - 1 Argentina

Standings: Brazil (9 pts), France (6 pts), Spain (3 pts), Argentina (0 pts)

Brazil 8 - 1 Ukraine
Portugal 7 - 3 France

France 7 - 6 Ukraine
Portugal 4 - 9 Brazil

Final standings:
1 -. Brazil
2 -. Portugal
3 -. France
4 -. Ukraine
5 -. Uruguay
6 -. Spain
7 -. Netherlands
8 -. Argentina

Best Player: Madjer (POR)
Top Scorer: Madjer (POR) - 12 goals
Best Goalkeeper: Pierre (BRA - 94.4%)