- 16 European teams to compete for four World Cup places
- Nazare, Portugal hosting the tournament
- Portugal go into qualifying as reigning world champions
The battle for Europe’s four allocated berths at the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup Russia 2021 is already underway in Nazare, Portugal, where the UEFA qualifying tournament is being held from 17 to 27 June. The top five teams from the preliminary round, which runs from 17 to 19 June in tandem with the Euro Beach Soccer League (EBSL), will advance to the final round, which begins on 21 June and in which a total of 16 teams will participate.
The top two teams from each group then advance to the quarter-finals, the winners of which qualify for the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup Russia 2021™ with the hosts.
Group A: Portugal, Turkey, Ukraine, preliminary round team
Group B: Italy, Germany, preliminary round team, preliminary round team
Group C: Spain, Belarus, Poland, preliminary round team
Group D: Switzerland, France, Azerbaijan, preliminary round team
Venue: Nazare (Portugal)
Duration: 17 to 27 June
- 17-19 June: Preliminary round
- 21-23 June: Group stage
- 24 June: Matches for places 9-16
- 25 June: Quarter-finals & matches for places 9-16
- 26 June: Semi-finals & matches for places 5-8
- 27 June: Finals & matches for places 7/8; 5/6; 3/4
At stake: Four places at Russia 2021
Portugal head into the tournament as one of the firm favourites, having been crowned world champions at two of the last three editions (2015 and 2019). If that were not impressive enough, they have also claimed the last two editions of the Euro Beach Soccer League. In Group B, Italy are strongly fancied after finishing second to Portugal at the Beach Soccer World Cup in 2019. Prior to that, the Azzurri reached the semis twice in a row.
Switzerland are another team to watch for, having graced the Beach Soccer World Cup five times already. “Our goal is obviously to win the group. In the quarter-finals, there’ll be teams of a different calibre, but we don’t know yet from which group our opponents will come from for this round. We’ll be using tried and tested players and fortunately have Noel Ott back from injury, which will allow us to go with a full-strength attack,” said national team coach Angelo Schirinzi on the Swiss Federation website. In conversation recently with FIFA.com ahead of the European qualifiers, the coach said: “With Switzerland, anything is possible, but I expect Portugal, Spain and Italy to secure their places in Russia.”
Spain will take confidence from their five EBSL crowns and would dearly love to taste European glory again. La Roja have not won this tournament since 2006 – they subsequently lost the final in 2014 and 2018 – but should never be written off.