FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup Ravenna/Italy 2011™
September 01 - September 11

FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup Ravenna/Italy 2011™

FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup Ravenna/Italy 2011™

Final Tournament Standing

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Tactical revolution unseats Brazil

As Sunday’s final at Ravenna/Italy 2011 showed, times are changing in the world of beach soccer. Six years and 30 games after their last defeat in the competition, four-time world champions Brazil were swept aside 12-8 in the tournament’s showpiece, comprehensively beaten not by a long-established force in the game, such as their 2005 conquerors Portugal, but by new pretenders Russia.

Aside from the end of Brazil’s long reign and the emergence of a team with the potential to embark on one of their own, Sunday’s dramatic match brought further evidence of a major shift in the sport of beach soccer, with Russia’s flawless teamwork trumping Brazil’s individual talent.

From the start of the competition it was clear that there would be fewer resounding victories than in previous tournaments, with every side, from the favourites down to the minnows, displaying a solid grasp of tactics and defensive organisation.

“It’s incredible how tactical the game’s become,” Brazil coach Alexandre Soares told FIFA.com. “It was much harder to find spaces here, and for proof of that all you have to do is look at the scorelines and the way in which games unfolded.”

No one suffered more as a result of the levelling of standards than Soares’ side. Accustomed to winning big at the world finals, A Seleção’s most handsome margin of victory en route to the 2011 final was a mere three goals, achieved in the 5-2 defeat of Mexico in the group phase. Having never lost a match in normal time in six FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup competitions, they then succumbed in three periods to the close-knit Russians, who spearheaded the tactical revolution witnessed in Ravenna.

“I’m happy to have a team like this, a team in which all 12 players have mastered the basics, know our system and lack nothing in terms of quality,” said victorious Russia coach Mikhail Likhachev. “This is how a team sport should be.”

In addition to their collective virtues, the eastern Europeans also boasted the tournament’s outstanding player in captain Ilya Leonov, the man who made them tick and a grateful winner of the adidas Golden Ball.

“A lot of what we do revolves around him, and after the campaign we had I think it was a richly deserved award,” added Likhachev, who also derived satisfaction at seeing goalkeeper Andrey Bukhlitskiy collect the adidas Golden Glove in recognition of his displays between the posts.

Underdogs rise upThe end of Brazil’s beach soccer monopoly was not the only change afoot at Ravenna/Italy 2011, as the less-fancied nations punched above their weight, among them Oceania champions Tahiti. Making their maiden appearance at the competition, the 2013 hosts kicked off with a 5-2 victory over fellow new boys Venezuela, delighting the fans at the Stadio del Mare.

Though the Pacific Islanders failed to make it through the group phase, they could be proud of their efforts, as could the competition’s other first-timers Oman, who opened the tournament by taking the lead against Argentina. A 3-1 defeat was followed by further losses to Portugal and El Salvador, but the Omanis far from disgraced themselves.

Senegal were another unfancied outfit to impress. Spurred on by their large band of dancing fans, the Lions of Teranga took the impressive Portuguese all the way to penalties in a thrilling quarter-final.

Nevertheless, the biggest fairy tale of them all was El Salvador’s unlikely run to the semi-finals. Not even the most optimistic of their fans would have imagined they would still be in action on the last day of the tournament, especially after they kicked off with an 11-2 reverse at the hands of Portugal. That defeat was their seventh loss in as many FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup matches, the CONCACAF champions having lost all their games at Marseille 2008 and Dubai 2009.

Belying their status as whipping boys, the Central Americans then broke their duck against Oman, going on to upset Argentina to set up a quarter-final against the host nation. El Salvador’s tournament tale then took a sensational twist as they ousted the Italians in extra-time, a triumph watched by a growing army of compatriots resident in Italy, who had a new hero to cheer in the form of Frank Velasquez. Dubbed “Romario” due to his squat frame and skill on the ball, the prolific striker made off with the adidas Bronze Ball and adidas Bronze Scorer awards.

Fellow forward Andre provided a telling reminder of the wealth of individual talent still at Brazil’s disposal, hitting six goals in the final to end the tournament as the adidas Golden Scorer, while Portugal’s Madjer was as lethal as ever in front of goal, finishing as one the top two scorers for the third time running.

And one other thing that did not change from previous tournaments was the electrifying atmosphere in the stadium, whipped up by a heady mix of non-stop music, the Beach Babes cheerleaders and goals, goals and more goals.

There will be more of the same in two years’ time, when Russia will attempt to defend their crown in the idyllic surroundings of Tahiti. It promises to be quite a party.

ParticipantsArgentina, Brazil, El Salvador, Iran, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Nigeria, Oman, Portugal, Russia, Senegal, Switzerland, Tahiti, Ukraine and Venezuela

Final rankings1. Russia

  1. Brazil

  2. Portugal

  3. El Salvador

Total goals269 (average 8.4 per match)

Top scorers

Andre (Brazil) - 14

Madjer (Portugal) - 12

Frank Velasquez (El Salvador) - 9

Awards

adidas Golden Ball: Ilya Leonov (Russia)

adidas Golden Scorer: Andre (Brazil)

adidas Golden Glove: Andrey Bukhlitskiy (Russia)

MATCHES

Tournament News

RAVENNA, ITALY - SEPTEMBER 11: Anton Shkarin (L) and Alexey Makarov (R) of Russia and Andre of Brazil battle for the ball during the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup Final between Russia and Brazil at Stadium del Mare on September 11, 2011 in Ravenna, Italy. (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos - FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images)
RAVENNA, ITALY - SEPTEMBER 11:  Egor Shaykov of Russia heads his teams first goal during the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup Final between Russia and Brazil at Stadium del Mare on September 11, 2011 in Ravenna, Italy.  (Photo by Lars Baron - FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images)
RAVENNA, ITALY - SEPTEMBER 11: Betinho of Brazil is challenged by Anton Shkarin of Russia during the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup Final between Russia and Brazil at Stadium del Mare on September 11, 2011 in Ravenna, Italy.  (Photo by Lars Baron - FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images)
RAVENNA, ITALY - SEPTEMBER 11:  Egor Shaykov of Russia celebrates after scoring a goal past Mao of Brazil during the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup Final between Russia and Brazil at Stadium del Mare on September 11, 2011 in Ravenna, Italy.  (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos - FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images)
RAVENNA, ITALY - SEPTEMBER 11: Elias Ramirez of El Salvador and Belchior of Portugal battle for the ball during the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup Third Place Playoff match between El Salvador and Portugal at Stadium del Mare on September 11, 2011 in Ravenna, Italy. (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos - FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images)
RAVENNA, ITALY - SEPTEMBER 11: Lucio of Portugal does a overhead kick next to Agustin Ruiz of El Salvador during the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup 3rd Place Playoff match between El Salvador and Portugal at Stadium del Mare on September 11, 2011 in Ravenna, Italy. (Photo by Lars Baron - FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images)
Alan of Portugal is challenged by Wilber Alvarado of El Salvador during the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup 3rd Place Playoff match between El Salvador and Portugal at Stadium del Mare on September 11, 2011 in Ravenna, Italy. (Photo by Lars Baron - FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images)
Madjer of Portugal celebrates after scoring his teams first goal during the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup 3rd Place Playoff match between El Salvador and Portugal at Stadium del Mare on September 11, 2011 in Ravenna, Italy. (Photo by Lars Baron - FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images)
RAVENNA, ITALY - SEPTEMBER 06:  The Beach Babe cheerleaders dance during the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup Group D match between Ukraine and Mexico at Stadium del Mare on September 6, 2011 in Ravenna, Italy.  (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos - FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images)
RAVENNA, ITALY - SEPTEMBER 08: Cheerleader performe during the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup Quarter Final match between Russia and Mexico at Stadium del Mare on September 8, 2011 in Ravenna, Italy.  (Photo by Lars Baron - FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images)
RAVENNA, ITALY - SEPTEMBER 06: Cheerleader performe during the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup Group D match between Brazil and Japan at Stadium del Mare on September 6, 2011 in Ravenna, Italy.  (Photo by Lars Baron - FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images)
RAVENNA, ITALY - SEPTEMBER 05:  The Beach Babe cheerleaders run off the ground after they dance during the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup Group B match between El Salvador and Argentina at Stadium del Mare on September 5, 2011 in Ravenna, Italy.  (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos - FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images)
RAVENNA, ITALY - SEPTEMBER 08: Antonio Barbosa of Mexico scores his teams first goal during the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup Quarter Final match between Russia and Mexico at Stadium del Mare on September 8, 2011 in Ravenna, Italy.  (Photo by Lars Baron - FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images)
RAVENNA, ITALY - SEPTEMBER 08:  Egor Shaykov (#9) of Russia celebrates scoring a goal during the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup Quarter Final match between Russia and Mexico at Stadium del Mare on September 8, 2011 in Ravenna, Italy.  (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos - FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images)
RAVENNA, ITALY - SEPTEMBER 08: Antonio Barbosa(#7) of Mexico celebrates scoring a goal with team mates during the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup Quarter Final match between Russia and Mexico at Stadium del Mare on September 8, 2011 in Ravenna, Italy. (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos - FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images)
RAVENNA, ITALY - SEPTEMBER 08: Yury Gorchinskiy of Russia challenges Morgan Plata of Mexico during the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup Quarter Final match between Russia and Mexico at Stadium del Mare on September 8, 2011 in Ravenna, Italy. (Photo by Lars Baron - FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images)
RAVENNA, ITALY - SEPTEMBER 06: Dmitry Shishin is challenged by Pedro Romero of Venezuela during the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup Group C match between Venezuela and Russia at Stadium del Mare on September 6, 2011 in Ravenna, Italy.  (Photo by Lars Baron - FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images)
RAVENNA, ITALY - SEPTEMBER 06: Dmitry Shishin of Russia is challenged by Pedro Romero of Venezuela during the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup Group C match between Venezuela and Russia at Stadium del Mare on September 6, 2011 in Ravenna, Italy. (Photo by Lars Baron - FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images)
RAVENNA, ITALY - SEPTEMBER 06:  Pablo Ferreira of Venezuela challenges Egor Shaykov of Russia during the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup Group C match between Venezuela and Russia at Stadium del Mare on September 6, 2011 in Ravenna, Italy.  (Photo by Lars Baron - FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images)
RAVENNA, ITALY - SEPTEMBER 06: Pablo Ferreira of Venezuela challenges Egor Shaykov of Russia during the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup Group C match between Venezuela and Russia at Stadium del Mare on September 6, 2011 in Ravenna, Italy. (Photo by Lars Baron - FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images)