History up for grabs with semi-spots in reach

  • Quarter-final time at Russia 2021

  • Senegal eye historic semi-final berth

  • Spain look to stop hosts

Calculators and group-stage permutations can now be dispensed with as the knockout phase is finally here. The quarter-finals at the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup Russia 2021™ promise drama aplenty and the prospect of history being made at the Luzhniki Beach Soccer Arena on 26 August. Senegal are on the brink of a maiden World Cup semi-final as they prepare to take on record winners Brazil, while the hosts meet a Spanish side keen to avenge their defeat to the same opponent in the 2013 World Cup final. Can Dejan Stankovic, the competition’s joint top scorer, add to his tally of eight goals? Can Ozu, Golden Ball winner at Paraguay 2019, keep the tournament’s most potent attack at bay? All will be revealed on Thursday.

The fixtures

26 August Senegal – Brazil (15:00 local time) Switzerland – Uruguay (16:30) Tahiti – Japan (19:00) RFU – Spain (20:30)

Did You Know?

Can Spain exorcise the demons of Tahiti 2013? The hosts finally rose to the occasion in their 7-1 group-stage victory over Japan after the players had spoken of issues with the sand and searching for form. Spain were imperious in qualifying for Russia 2021 but face a tough task now to stop the RFU. When these two sides met in the 2013 World Cup final, it was the Russians who came out on top to break La Roja hearts.

Can Senegal take a giant step forward? Senegal are no strangers to a World Cup quarter-final, but if they are to reach a maiden semi-final, then they must overcome five-time champions Brazil. An extremely tight tactical battle awaits as both sides have looked strong in Moscow, each only conceding seven goals in the group stage. Can Stankovic derail Uruguay again? At Dubai 2009, Dejan Stankovic was named player of the tournament as he hit four goals against Uruguay in the semi-final to help Switzerland reach their first and only World Cup final. The 2009 adidas Golden Scorer turned 36 on Wednesday but continues to rewrite the history books, becoming the second highest goalscorer of all time. Can he lead Switzerland to a second final and achieve yet more personal accolades, or will Uruguay march on?

Ozu takes on tournament’s best attack Even though Tahiti topped Group B and beat Japan 4-3 in the sides’ only World Cup meeting in 2017, the Tiki Toa are not clear favourites for this tie. The Tahitians have produced some breath-taking football in Moscow, outscoring everyone else, but if there is one team that knows how to stymie attacks, then it is Japan, marshalled by the powerful and uncompromising Ozu Moreira.

The quote

“We showed our potential against Japan. That’s the level of performance we need to strive for. We’ll go out there against Spain fired up but also with cool heads. Winning the World Cup at home is our main aim.” Boris Nikonorov, RFU striker