Rodrigo: Winning the title is the only goal for Brazil

  • Rodrigo assesses Brazil's performances at Russia 2021

  • He looks forward to a quarter-final clash against Senegal

  • The pivot insists nothing short of gold will be enough

“We’re focused on how they play, but they need to be worried about our game too,” warned Brazil’s Rodrigo, reminding everyone of Brazil’s status on sand ahead of their FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup Russia 2021™ quarter-final against Senegal, a side that has impressed so far with their physical and goalscoring prowess. In the final group match on Tuesday, the five-time world champions sent a powerful message to their rivals by booking their place in the last eight with a resounding 5-0 win over a Belarus side that have proved tricky opponents at Russia 2021. It was a victory that banished memories of the opening-day defeat to Switzerland and the narrow win against El Salvador. “We went out there a lot more switched on than we have been, both in defence and attack,” the free-scoring pivot told The winner of the adidas Silver Scorer at Bahamas 2017, and the scorer of three goals and provider of two assists at Russia 2021, Rodrigo added: “We imposed ourselves from the off, wore them down, got the opening goal and then dictated the pace.”

MOSCOW, RUSSIA - AUGUST 24: Datinha of Brazil beats Yahor Hardzetski of Belarus during the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup 2021 group C match between Brazil and Belarus at Luzhniki Beach Soccer Stadium on August 24, 2021 in Moscow, Russia. (Photo by Octavio Passos - FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images)

FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup Russia 2021™

BSWC 2021 | Match Highlights | Brazil v Belarus 5:0

24 Aug 2021

The Brazil No9 was full of praise for his side’s defensive organisation. “The most positive thing was that we kept a clean sheet," he said. "It was a great win and we really needed it. "Our concentration levels were poor in our previous games and we let in some really stupid goals. You just can’t do that. We were a lot more focussed this time. “We didn’t lack commitment in our previous games. We played with tenacity and determination, but we were disorganised. That’s why we gave away so many silly fouls, four of which led to goals against Switzerland. We just can’t let things like that happen.” When talk turned to Senegal’s powerful performances to date, Rodrigo expressed his admiration. “They’re a good side, physically strong, and we know what they can do," he said. "But they also know what we’re capable of. We’re going to play the same way we did against Belarus, with the same focus. We’ll play our game.” Now appearing in his fourth Beach Soccer World Cup after a decade in the game, the 28-year-old is well placed to discuss the levelling-up in playing standards, something Brazil witnessed for themselves in their first two group matches. “Every country has come on in recent years, both physically and technically,” said Rodrigo, Brazil’s all-time fifth-highest World Cup scorer with 21 goals. “This is a World Cup. "The best teams are here and you have to expect some tough, top-level games. There are no easy teams, and you have to be careful in every match and make sure you don’t get caught out.”

MOSCOW, RUSSIA - AUGUST 24: Rodrigo of Brazil beats the challenge from Vadzim Bokach of Belarus during the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup 2021 group C match between Brazil and Belarus at Luzhniki Beach Soccer Stadium on August 24, 2021 in Moscow, Russia. (Photo by Octavio Passos - FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images)

The new rules have played their part in that. “It’s a more dynamic game now,” said Rodrigo. “It’s harder for the keeper to get hold of the ball and give the team a breather. Everything happens more quickly, so fitness comes into it more. "Things haven’t changed that much, though. You can see that everyone’s innovating and looking for new ways to take the opposition by surprise.” Brushing off the pressure of top-level beach soccer, he added: “Pressure is something else altogether. We know all about the responsibility that comes with representing your country. We know it well and we’re used to it. “There’s nothing better than doing what you love. We’re doing it for our families and for the millions of Brazilians that follow us, so there’s no reason to feel anything other than happiness, joy and love. “Winning the title is the only goal. We respect all our rivals, of course, but we haven’t come to be second, third or fourth. We’re here for the title and we want to show it. God willing, we’ll leave here as world champions again.”

MOSCOW, RUSSIA - AUGUST 17: Soares Da Costa poses during the Brazil team presentation prior to the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup Russia 2021 on August 17, 2021 in Moscow, Russia. (Photo by Oleg Nikishin - FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images)