Three old acquaintances will be joined by one new face at next September's FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup after Spain, Russia, Ukraine and the Netherlands booked their places at Tahiti 2013 at the European qualification tournament in Moscow.
A total of 24 teams competed for just four places at next year's finals in the South Pacific, with Spain redeeming themselves for their absence at Ravenna/Italy 2011 with a deserved triumph in Moscow. Hosts Russia and neighbouring Ukraine will join La Roja in Tahiti, while the Netherlands can look forward to their first ever appearance at a FIFA Beach World Cup.
FIFA.com rounds up the action from the Russian capital.
It was clear from the group stage that the Netherlands were going to be a force to be reckoned with in Russia. Along with Ukraine, the Oranje were the only side to take maximum points from their section, including a 5-4 victory against eventual winners Spain. Ukraine also impressed by beating 2011 bronze medallists Portugal 2-1.
Reigning champions Russia made light work of the first round but did succumb to Poland (3-2 aet) in their final group match. Spain, meanwhile, lost their opener against the Dutch but wins against Norway and Turkey ensured their safe passage to the Round of 16.
Romania were the tournament's first high-profile casualty as defeats to Czech Republic and France sealed the highly-fancied eastern Europeans' fate early on.
Crunch clashes in last 16
Owing to some surprise results in the group stage, the first knockout round served up a number of mouthwatering fixtures. Two European giants collided as Russia took on Switzerland, with the Sbornaja eventually triumphing 8-7 in a highly entertaining contest.
Meanwhile Spain breezed past Italy 6-2 and Ukraine won 7-4 against Turkey, who had qualified for the last 16 as one of the four best third-placed teams in the group stage. The Netherlands rode their luck against Israel, winning 4-3 thanks in part to an own-goal.
Final group phase decisive
The winners of the eight Round of 16 ties were subsequently split into two groups, with Russia, the Netherlands, France and Belarus pitted against one another and Spain taking on Ukraine, Poland and Hungary.
Titleholders Russia were the first nation to secure their FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup 2010 ticket, beating Belarus (5-3), the Netherlands (2-1) and France (8-5) to progress to the semi-finals. The Oranje were made to sweat but eventually made the last four by way of a 5-4 win against Belarus having previously overcome France 6-5 on penalties.
Spain's imperiousness continued with wins against Poland (5-3), Ukraine (5-4 aet) and Hungary (4-1) and La Roja were accompanied into the semis by Ukraine, who earned their last-four berth with victories against Hungary (3-2) and Poland (7-4).
Spain secure European crown
With their place at the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup Tahiti 2013 already confirmed, the four remaining teams were paired off to determine who would go home with a medal. Ukraine claimed bronze with a 3-0 success against the Netherlands, with the excellent Vitalii Sydorenko showing why he was voted the tournament's best goalkeeper.
In the final it was Spain who came out on top against hosts Russia. The Iberians' energy proved too much for the reigning champions as captain Amarelle, later voted Player of the Tournament, led his side to a 5-3 victory.
*The stat 491 – *The total number of goals scored at the European qualification tournament in Moscow. Poland veteran Boguslaw Saganowski, 35, struck 15 of them - more than any other player.