- *No two countries have each played more in the history of the competition than Brazil and Portugal *
- Two best attacks face off, as Italy meet Senegal
- Senegal, Iran and Paraguay all gunning to reach semi-finals for first time
*MATCHDAY PREVIEW – *The meeting between reigning champions Portugal and four-time winners Brazil is the pick of the quarter-finals at the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup Bahamas 2017.
“It’s a final come early,” said Portugal’s Belchior, who, like team-mate Madjer, will need to find his very best form against an in-form Brazil side.
While Belchior has just two goals to his name at Bahamas 2017, Madjer, the tournament’s all-time leading scorer, has none. In contrast, Brazil’s Rodrigo and Catarino have 14 between them, two more than the entire Portugal team have managed to date.
Elsewhere, Italy and Tahiti will respectively start as narrow favourites against Senegal and Paraguay, two sides with less experience at this stage of the competition, but with nothing to lose.
Finally, Switzerland and Iran should need little motivating for their encounter, having both had to dig deep in their final group matches to qualify.
The games Thursday 4 May
*What you need to know *1. *Haven’t we met before? *Thursday’s match will be the seventh meeting between Brazil and Portugal in the Beach Soccer World Cup, making it the most common pairing in the tournament’s history. With the exception of the inaugural world finals, when they lost on penalties, the Brazilians have always come out on top against the Portuguese. The two sides, who have not met since 2011, have amassed 13 top-three finishes between them at eight world finals (seven and six, respectively).
Fireworks in the offing: The Italy-Senegal tie promises to be an exciting one, not least because the two teams boasted the most prolific attacks in the group phase, with each scoring 25 goals. Though La Azzurra have won all their matches to date, the key to victory could yet lie in defence, with the Senegalese having conceded just seven goals so far, four fewer than the Italians.
Breaking new ground: Of the eight sides still in the competition, only Iran, Senegal and Paraguay have never reached the last four before. While the Iranians and Paraguayans both lost their one and only previous matches against their quarter-final opponents, the head-to-head between Senegal and Italy reads one win apiece.
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