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05 Dec 2019
Portugal and Europe dominant once more
European sides take top three places - a tournament first - as Portugal claim second world title in four years
After failing to grace the podium two years ago in the Bahamas, European teams were back with a bang at the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup Paraguay 2019, where Portugal took top honours followed by Italy and Russia.
Of the top three finishers at Bahamas 2017, two (Brazil and Tahiti) failed to reach the semis in Paraguay, while the third (Iran) did not even qualify for the tournament.
Brazil's quarter-final elimination was unquestionably one of the biggest surprises of the tournament, with the defending champions near universal favourites for the title.
Instead it was Portugal who went all the way to secure their second title in just four years. The difference on this occasion was that the driving force was no longer Madjer, Belchior or Alan, but the likes of Andrade, Jordan and the brothers Be and Leo Martins, who all came of age and formed the backbone of a team overflowing with experience.
"The key was to play the big games well," Jordan, one of three Portuguese players to receive individual awards, told FIFA.com.
Italy and Russia go close
Italy underlined their emergence as a beach soccer heavyweight by reaching the semi-finals for the third consecutive edition, progressing to the final on this occasion.
Despite the goalscoring prowess of Gori and Emmanuele Zurlo, the Azzurri still came up short, but the future looks promising – especially with the arrival of 19-year-old Josep Gentilin. "We'll have our revenge," Zurlo told FIFA.com.
After barely making it though the group stage, Russia then starred in two of the best games of this World Cup: their triumph over Brazil in the quarter-final followed by their narrow loss to Italy in the semis.
There is no denying that Russian beach soccer has again risen to power. After not qualifying for Bahamas 2017, three players who had not been in the squad for Portugal 2015 stood out: goalkeeper Maksim Chuzhkov and pivots Fedor Zemskov and Boris Nikonorov. As a youngster, Nikonorov admired the very team-mates he is now playing with.
More outstanding performers
Inspired by Player of the Tournament Ozu Moreira, Japan took Portugal all the way to penalties in the semi-finals. And while they also lost the play-off for third place to Russia, the country equalled their previous best performance at a World Cup from 2005.
Displaying good technique and physical strength, Senegal confirmed they have closed the gap on the top sides, although they will need to fine-tune the tactical side of things to go even further.
Tactical astuteness and youthful talent made Uruguay the surprise team of the tournament, pointing to a very promising future.
The same could be said of United Arab Emirates, who demonstrated remarkable progress despite not reaching the quarter-finals, and hosts Paraguay, who, but for the narrowest of group stage defeats, could themselves have been among the top eight.
Did you know?
- Paraguay 2019 equalled Rio de Janeiro 2006 as the edition with the most goals scored: 286 in 32 games, 20 more than at Bahamas 2017.
- 104 different players got on the scoresheet.
- Portugal's Madjer, who announced this would be his final World Cup, scored one goal in this edition to take his tally 88 and sit comfortably on top of the all-time scorers list.
- The Brazilian Bokinha scored the 2500th goal of the competition with his strike against Nigeria.
- Brazil goalkeeper Mao played his 50th Beach Soccer World Cup match in Paraguay, more than any other player.
- Gori of Italy was the top scorer for the second consecutive edition. Only Madjer had previously managed that feat (2005 and 2006).
- The Brazilian Mauricinho scored the fastest goal of the tournament by finding the net after 43 seconds.
1 - Portugal
2 - Italy
3 - Russia
4 - Japan
adidas Golden Ball: Ozu Moreira
adidas Silver Ball: Jordan
adidas Bronze Ball: Be Martins
adidas Golden Glove: Andrade
Fair Play Award: Senegal
adidas Golden Scorer: Gori (16 goals)
adidas Silver Scorer: Emmanuele Zurlo (10 goals, 1 assist)
adidas Bronze Scorer: Fedor Zemskov (10 goals)
286 (8.94 per game)
Los Pynandi World Cup Stadium
Photo: Getty Images