- Semi-finals of the Beach Soccer World Cup take place on 30 November
- Italy-Russia a repeat of European qualifying final, which Russia won 7-1
- Japan are the only team remaining still unbeaten
MATCHDAY PREVIEW – The semi-finals of the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup Paraguay 2019™ have a common denominator: two teams who know what it is like to lift the trophy, Russia and Portugal, facing opponents still searching for their maiden world title, Italy and Japan.
Despite the elimination of Brazil, which came as a surprise to most beach soccer fans, Saturday 30 November promises to be just as exciting as the quarter-final duels, which were all decided by fine margins.
Italy-Russia (16:15 local time)
Japan-Portugal (18:00 local time)
After narrowly progressing from the group stage, Russia knocked out Brazil by showing the same attributes that won them world titles in 2011 and 2013: tactical discipline in defence combined with ruthless efficiency in attack.
For the semi-final, Russia welcome back from suspension Alexey Makarov and Artur Paporotnyi, making them an even more dangerous proposition.
Italy secured their place in the last four courtesy of an epic victory over Switzerland, especially considering that striker Gabriele Gori did not score and came off injured for a long spell of the game. In spite of that, the Azzurri found a way thanks to players like Emmanuele Zurlo and the ever-dependable Simone Del Mestre.
Did you know?
The semi showdown will be a rematch of the final of the European qualifying tournament, which Russia won 7-1.
Japan, the only semi-finalist still unbeaten, have been notable for their disciplined and balanced play both in attack and defence – as quarter-final opponents Uruguay can testify.
Under captain Ozu Moreira, the Asian side have won three of their four games by a single goal, and the other one by just two. And while they are the semi-finalists with the fewest goals scored (17), they are also the side with the fewest goals conceded (12).
Portugal have impressed in Paraguay with their experienced displays, something that was again in evidence against Senegal, and emphatic goalscoring, with seven different players sharing their 24 goals thus far (only Italy have managed more, with 26). At an individual level, Coimbra, Jordan, and twins Be and Leo Martins have all been outstanding, as has Andrade in goal.
Did you know?
Portugal have won the pair’s three prior meetings in this competition: 4-0 in 2005, 2-1 in 2009 and 4-2 in 2015.