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09 Jul 2015
Two champions come out to play
With Day 1 winners Italy, Portugal, Argentina, and Switzerland off on Friday we look towards Day 2
The second day of the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup Portugal 2015 is headlined by two of the main contenders for glory in Espinho: two-time reigning champions Russia and four-time winners Brazil.
Also in action are the losing finalists from two years ago, Spain, who are also among the pretenders to the crown, and two teams that have made waves at previous editions: Mexico, the runners-up in 2007, and Tahiti, who finished fourth on home sand in 2013. FIFA.com previews the opening round of fixtures in Groups C and D.
Match of the day
Russia-Paraguay, 14:30 local time
The all-conquering Russians look in ominous form as they aim to make it three world titles on the bounce. Boasting an experienced squad with plenty of strength in depth, all the signs are that they will be in the reckoning once again. However, their opener promises to be anything but plain sailing, as they are up against a fast-improving Paraguay side who have established themselves as the second biggest power on the South American beach soccer scene. Indeed, the Albirroja gave the holders a real run for their money two years ago, only losing out by one goal in extra time. Furthermore, this time they can call on the priceless experience of Roberto Acuna, a veteran of three FIFA World Cups™ on grass.
The other matches
Games between Brazil and Mexico have become something of a classic: the countries have faced off four times at the Beach Soccer World Cup, meaning only two match-ups can boast more pedigree in the competition's history. The South Americans have won all of the previous meetings, including the final of the 2007 edition, when the North Americans were a revelation. Given this backdrop and their credentials, Brazil must be considered favourites in this Group C encounter between two champions of their respective confederations. Beforehand, Spain will take on Iran in what is a key match for both teams' hopes. Both countries had to work hard to make it to Espinho, but possess the experience and ambition to aspire to a place in the quarter-finals. La Roja will be bidding to bounce back from their defeat in the final last time round and will be braced for a stern challenge from opponents who are a force in their region.
Tahiti surprised everyone as hosts two years ago and are intent on proving that this impressive showing was no accident. Their technical ability and fitness will be put to the test by debutants Madagascar, who made a statement by unexpectedly winning the hard-fought CAF Beach Soccer Championship to clinch their spot in Portugal.
Player to watch
Sublime Brazilian Bruno Xavier faces a big ask if he is to repeat his feats at Tahiti 2013, where he scooped the adidas Golden Ball and adidas Silver Boot awards. That said, he has more than enough talent to do so and will be well aware that his country will need him at his best if they are to reclaim the world crown.
1 - Portugal 2015 marks Madagascar's first appearance at a Beach Soccer World Cup and they are the only team making their bow at this edition of the event.
"I think we're in for a tougher time this year because the surprise factor has been lost and the other teams know what to expect from us," Tahiti wide man Raimana Li Fung Kuee.
All times are local