Battle for consolation and pride
El Salvador and Portugal met in the group stage at the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup Ravenna/Italy 2011, and now go head-to-head again in the match for third place. Both teams will be keen to win and head home from the tournament on a high.
El Salvador are without doubt the surprise package of the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup. The Central Americans, who had not won in two previous appearances at the tournament, looked in danger of another early exit after crashing to an 11-2 defeat against Portugal in their opening group match.
However, they finally registered a maiden victory against Oman, and then beat Argentina to seal a quarter-final berth. Potent striker Frank Velasquez then prompted the biggest shock of the tournament with a four-goal salvo as El Salvador edged past hosts Italy.
The semi-final proved a hurdle too far as the powerful Russians eased to victory, but the Central Americans’ disappointment did not last long as they swiftly turned their attention to their final appointment on the Adriatic coast. If they can conjure up a win on Sunday, third place would rate as a truly impressive achievement.
By contrast, third spot would be more of a minor consolation for Portugal, after their dream of a maiden FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup title again faltered and died. The Iberians scored at will to begin with, rattling up the goals against El Salvador and then beating Argentina 5-0 and Oman 8-3.
However, the Portuguese seemed to lose momentum after that. They needed penalties to overcome African champions Senegal in the last eight, and were strangely toothless in front of goal in their 4-1 semi-final loss to Brazil.
Reversing that trend in the third-place play-off would at least be a decent send-off from a tournament which promised much but only partially delivered from a Portuguese point of view. Spice is added to the game by the personal duel between Madjer and Velasquez, the top scorers in Ravenna so far, and the lead contenders for the adidas Golden Boot.
“I’m not disappointed. We knew Russia had the better team. We gave it our best shot, and we can be proud of our performances at the tournament. We’re now looking forward to the match for third place, and we’ll be determined to win,“ El Salvador captain Agustin Ruiz
“We started well but we were unlucky – I personally hit the goal frame three times. But if you don’t take your chances, the likes of Brazil will punish you. The game against El Salvador will be tough because we’ll have to find renewed motivation and energy from somewhere, but we’ll obviously be looking to win,“ Portugal captain Madjer