Final tickets up for grabs
Semi-finals: RFU-Switzerland, Japan-Senegal
A Russian discusses his friendship with an "almost Russian" Swiss
Can Dejan Stankovic win another Golden Scorer award?
And then there were four... The 16 teams that started the tournament have been whittled down to just four at the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup Russia 2021™. The hosts are favourites on paper, having lifted the trophy on two previous occasions, in 2011 and 2013. However, RFU face an in-form Switzerland side who beat Uruguay 10-1 in the previous round, the biggest win of the tournament so far. In the second semi-final, all eyes will be on African champions Senegal after they dispatched record champions Brazil in the last eight. Meanwhile Japan, led by captain and superstar Ozu Moreira, have proven themselves to be a formidable unit up to this point. Can the Samurai Blue get the better of the physically imposing Lions of Teranga?
The games (local times)
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Memories of 2015 Japan and Senegal faced each other in the group stage of this competition six years ago, with the Asians winning 4-3. The Africans were ultimately forced to pack their bags before the knockout stages six years ago, while the Samurai Blue lost to Italy in the quarter-finals. Switzerland retracing their steps from 2009 While the Russians have already won the title twice, this is only the second time that Switzerland have reached the semi-finals. In 2009 Die Eidgenossen went all the way to the final, where they lost 10-5 to Brazil, having already beaten Russia 4-2 in the quarter-finals. Three players from that match will take to the sand again today: Dmitrii Shishin and Anton Shkarin for the hosts, and Switzerland’s Dejan Stankovic, who scored a hat-trick 12 years ago and went on to collect both the adidas Golden Ball as the best player of the tournament and the adidas Golden Scorer for netting the most goals – 16 in all. Who will be crowned the tournament’s top goalscorer? Having moved up to second place in the competition’s all-time scorers' list at Russia 2021, Stankovic appears to be in pole position to become the adidas Golden Scorer once again. The Swiss captain has already scored eight times, the same number as Leo Martins of Portugal and one ahead of Mozambique’s Figo. However, both of his closest rivals have already been eliminated from the tournament and can no longer add to their tallies.
"We’ve been friends with Stankovic for a long time. He played in Russia, and to be honest he’s almost Russian himself. He knows everything about us – all of our combinations, all of our plays. He’s a fantastic goalscorer, even though his defending isn’t so strong. But we know the Swiss well too. It will be a very different match. I think there will be plenty of goals in it." Anton Shkarin, RFU captain