- Quarter-finals set at Beach Soccer World Cup Paraguay 2019
- Brazil still overwhelming favourites
- FIFA.com previews the four enticing matchups
MATCHDAY PREVIEW - It's crunch time at the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup Paraguay 2019. Half of the teams are already packing their bags and off to the airport in Asuncion, while eight remain in what promises to be four must-watch quarter-finals.
Reigning champions Brazil remain the team to beat, with their perfect progression through the group phase a sign that Gilberto Sousa's squad mean business once again.
Brazil - Russia (16:15 local time)
Senegal - Portugal (17:50 local time)
Italy - Switzerland (19:25 local time)
Japan - Uruguay (21:00 local time)
Brazil v Russia
The quarter-finals start with the only tie of the four to feature two former World Cup champions. Holders Brazil breezed through the group phase capping it off with a ten-goal margin win over Nigeria, while Russia were made to work to the very end in their dramatic 5-3 victory over a resilient Belarus side to book their place in the knockout stage. The question will be whether Mikhail Likhachev's team can recover enough mentally and physically in order to put Brazil to the test.
Senegal v Portugal
After an initial disappointment losing to Russia in an 8-7 thriller, Senegal's heads didn't drop and they put in two confident displays against Belarus (7-2) and UAE (3-1). An intriguing match-up to watch will be to see if Mamour Diagne, on six goals at Paraguay 2019, can get past Portugal's experienced keeper Andrade, who is coming off a superb game against Oman. A lot of Portugal's game is reliant on the skills and movement of identical twins Be and Leo Martins, so the Senegalese defence, led by towering keeper Al Seyni Ndiaye, will have be on their A game.
Italy v Switzerland
The only all-European tie promises to be a close one. Italy will be favourites to advance, especially due to the scintillating form of forward Gabriele Gori, who is averaging more than four goals per game in Paraguay. Switzerland's experienced side led by Mo Jaeggy will be put to the test and head coach Angelo Schirinzi will be relying on Noel Ott, Dejan Stankovic and Philipp Borer to provide the goals. The two teams met earlier in May 2019 in the play-off for third at the World Beach Games qualifiers and Italy prevailed 6-4 on that occasion, so expect another close on this time around.
Japan v Uruguay
Both of these teams are considered outsiders for the title, which means a place in the final four for either side would be hugely significant. Japan and Uruguay are strong defensively and are both cohesive units, so, on paper, a high-scoring affair seems unlikely. Along with holders Brazil, Japan are the only team to have won all nine points on offer during the group stage. This is Uruguay's first World Cup in ten years, but when they qualify, they go far, as noted by captain Gaston Laduche: "It’s great to be in the top eight, but Uruguay had never failed to get past the group phase before so we can’t be satisfied just with that."