FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup Paraguay: Italy placed in Group B with Uruguay, Mexico and TahitiThe Azzurri will face their group stage opponents from 21 to 25 November 2019
Saturday, September 14, 2019
All in all, this was a pleasing draw for Italy at the CONMEBOL Convention Centre in Asunción. The Azzurri will play in Group B at the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup, which will take place in Paraguay from 21 November to 1 December 2019. Notwithstanding that every match is a story in itself and that the sand can put pay to any differences there might be on paper, the Azzurri won’t have to play any of the favourites to lift the trophy in the opening stages of the tournament. On Thursday 21 November at 20:15 CET, Italy will play Tahiti in their opening fixture in what will be the first match of the tournament. Emiliano Del Duca’s side will then face Uruguay on Saturday 23 November at 23:25. The Azzurri’s final group stage match will be on Monday 25 November at 20:15, when they’ll come up against Mexico. The top two teams from each group will qualify for the quarter-finals. The draw could have been much worse for Italy: they could have been placed in the same group as Brazil, Russia or the hosts. Furthermore, Switzerland and Belarus were in the third and fourth pots respectively.
Italy have never faced Tahiti and Uruguay, while they emerged victorious in their two previous meetings with Mexico. In October 2016, the Azzurri beat the Mexicans 4-0 in the Super Cup of Nations in 2016 before recording a resounding 8-1 win in their third group fixture at the 2017 World Cup in the Bahamas. Should they qualify for the quarters, Italy will face one of the top two sides in Group A.
“There aren’t any easy groups and games in the World Cup,” said Head Coach Emiliano Del Duca after the draw. “Tahiti finished as runners-up in the last World Cup and are a physical side with a clearly defined playing system. Mexico won the 2019 CONCACAF Beach Soccer Championship to qualify and Uruguay have returned to this stage with a lot of desire to do well. But we are Italy, we need to continue on the path we’ve taken in order to be in the best condition possible both physically and mentally when the World Cup comes around.”
For more information, visit fifa.com/beachsoccerworldcup/
The other groups – A: Paraguay, Japan, Switzerland and USA. C: Belarus, United Arab Emirates, Senegal and Russia. D: Brazil, Oman, Portugal and Nigeria.
Italy’s opponents – On paper, Italy’s most difficult game during the group stage will be against Tahiti, who have made impressive progress since 2011. The team coached by Angelo Schirinzi have taken part in the past four World Cups, finishing runners-up on the last two occasions. It’s no coincidence that players such as Taiarui, Tchen, Tavanae, Labaste and Zaveroni have played in Italy’s Serie A. Labaste and Taiarui are the only players remaining from the 2011 World Cup squad (the team didn’t make it out of the group stage back then) and are Tahiti’s record goalscorers in the World Cup with nine and eight goals respectively. Patrick Tepa scored the most goals in qualifying, a total of twelve. Their Swiss Head Coach was also able to hone his skills in Italy, first as a player and then as a coach.
Mexico are set to take part in their sixth World Cup, with no other team in Central America having made more appearances in the tournament. They won all of their matches in the 2019 CONCACAF Beach Soccer Championship, defeating the United States 8-2 in the final. Diego Villasenor and Benjamin Bosco were given awards for being the best goalkeeper and best player in the competition respectively. Mexico’s best ever showing at the World Cup was in 2007, when they were defeated by hosts Brazil in the final.
Uruguay are back in the World Cup after missing out on the last four editions of the tournament. In 2006, they lost in the final against Brazil before coming third in 2007. In 2009, they lost their third-place playoff match against Portugal. In 2005 and 2008 they were eliminated at the quarter-final stage. The Celeste won four of their six matches during qualifying, their only defeats coming against Brazil during the group stage and then against the same team in the final. Gaston Laduche and Luis Quinta both scored six goals each as the Celeste reached the World Cup for the first time since 2009.