Tahiti, Brazil, Spain, Russia battle for World Cup title

The 2013 FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup, one of the world’s most unique tournaments, will crown a champion on Sept. 29.

Beach soccer became a part of FIFA’s family of tournaments in 2005, when the first FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup was played on Copacabana Beach in Rio de Janiero, Brazil. Beach soccer is a rapidly growing aspect of the world’s most popular sport. It is played five to a side, including a goalkeeper, with no shoes.

So who’s left?

Tahiti vs. Russia (Sept. 28)
Tahiti – As the first Pacific Islands nation to emerge victorious from the knockout stage of a FIFA tournament, this Tahitian team is nothing short of ecstatic. Tahiti are in good form after the group stages, with the loss to Spain as the only mark on a flawless tournament. “Tahiti is in semi final and nobody ever thought that it could be possible,” said goalkeeper Jonathan Torohia, to FIFA.com. “We now enter into the history books of our country and we dedicate this victory [defeating Argentina in the semi-finals] to all people of Polynesia.” Tahiti is known for it’s calm, cool style of play, but might need a fire set underneath them to defeat this pragmatic, experienced Russian team.

Russia – Defending champion Russia has proven to be a creative, fluid team that knows exactly how to win when it matters. This is an extremely experienced squad, some of these players have been on the sand together for a decade. “Tahiti is a very good team thanks to the work they done over the past two years. We have no fears, it will be a pleasure to play against them in this stadium. We are happy to see all the people who come every night to see us play,” said Russia coach Mikhail Likhachev to FIFA.com.

Spain vs. Brazil (Sept 28)
Spain – After defeating host Tahiti, the United Arab Emirates and the United States, Spain handily emerged from the group stages. This is the first time that Spain will face Brazil in the FIA Beach Soccer World Cup since 2008. The Spanish side has proven their skill and depth, coming through as a team and individuals for a strong tournament showing.

Brazil – Since the tournament’s inception under World Beach Soccer, Brazil has won this tournament an astonishing 13 times. Brazil boats the tournament’s leading goal-scorer, Bruno Xavier, who has 8. Brazil has a large statistical advantage over Spain. In 36 meetings between the teams, Brazil is 33-1-2. Committed to their signature one-touch style and keeping the ball off of the sand, Brazil is more than capable of rising to the occasion.

Tahiti will face Russia for a place in the final, right after Spain battles Brazil to determine the second contender.

The third-place match will be played on Sept. 29, right before the final on the same day.

For 2013 FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup gear, check out SOCCER.COM.