Let battle commence
After the group stage of the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup Rio de Janeiro 2005 threw up only one real surprise when Japan beat USA, now the knockout stage begins. The action will get decisive and even more exciting now, with sides fighting to get to the semis and avoid the long plane journey home. If the all-European heavyweight clash at the start of the programme is not enough for you, try the last game - where great rivals Brazil and Argentina will face-off in front of a vociferous capacity crowd.
France v Spain (4pm local time)
France were on cruise control throughout the first round - easing past Australia 5-1 before turning on the style in an emphatic 8-2 win over Argentina to top Group D. Strangely their record of two wins, 13 goals scored and three conceded was exactly the same as both Brazil and Portugal. It's no wonder that many in Rio see these three teams as ahead of the field here. French coach Eric Cantona has so far resisted the temptation to take to the field himself and so far his young charges haven't needed him. Spain, the last team to qualify, need to pick up their performance from the Brazil game when they couldn't capitalise on Amarelle's stunning early strike. Experienced coach Joaquín Alonso thinks it will be tight: "Our team have certainly improved recently. Portugal are a very good side and France have made steps in the last few years. The three European teams are on much the same level - I'm really looking forward to the match."
Portugal v Ukraine (5.15pm)
Possibly the most intriguing tie of the day - the extravagant Portuguese taking on the team who really made a name for themselves in the group stage. Having said he wanted his team to "show their face to the world", Victor Moroz must be satisfied with the way Pylypenko, Varenytsya and co have impressed so many in Rio. Their strength and power completely overwhelmed South Africa and they were only undone against Uruguay by two unstoppable long shots - when for long periods it looked like they were getting a grip on the game. The will have no one to match Madjer or Alan for technique and Zé Miguel's side will certainly start favourites, but they know they're in for a game.
Uruguay v Japan (6.30pm)
By beating the eastern Europeans in that 5-4 thriller, Uruguay avoided Portugal and instead find themselves up against first round surprise packages Japan. Gustavo Sanchez's team weren't entirely convincing against South Africa and had real problems with Ukraine, but they are vastly more experienced than Japan. Another win for the last Asian representative would be a huge shock. To see the joy Ramon Rui's men showed after they had defeated the USA illustrated that they had perhaps surprised even themselves, but now they are here, he'll want them to go even further.
Brazil v Argentina (7.45pm)
To hear the support France received from the home crowd during their 8-2 win over Argentina leaves you in no doubt about the size of this rivalry. The Brazilian fans will pack the Copacabana stadium and expect their heroes to flick, feint, volley and bicycle-kick their South American neighbours to distraction. Auriverde coach Jorge Ferreira Alves is not convinced it will be so straightforward: "It's always very difficult to play against Argentina. We beat them 2-0 in the qualifiers and that was a hard match. I'm looking forward to organising both the offensive and defensive sides to our game and to have my players play with happiness." Fusing flair and function is this coach's primary task and if he manages it we can expect a long night's party on the beach…