Brazil have been the dominant force of the Fifa Beach Soccer World Cup in recent years, winning four of the past five events, and the early signs indicate that it is going to take something special to prevent them racking up another title in Tahiti.
They proved too good for Ukraine in their second Group C game yesterday, winning 4-2 to remain unbeaten in two games and all but booking a place in the knockout stages.
With three goals, Bruno Xavier had been the hero of their 4-1 win over Iran on Thursday and he was at the centre of the action against Ukraine, finding the net twice more.
He opened the scoring in the fourth minute, and it looked as if it would be an easy day for Brazil when Bruno added a second.
But the Ukrainians, who lost their opening game to Senegal, got back on level terms through efforts from Oleg Zborovskyi and Volodymyr Hladchenko.
But Xavier struck again to restore the lead for Brazil and the team added a fourth to wrap up the victory.
Brazil could still be eliminated, but they would have to lose their final game to Senegal by a sizeable margin, and see Iran beat Ukraine by a big score to put them out.
Iran put themselves in a strong position to go through with their 5-3 success over Senegal.
Mohammad Ahmadzadeh was the Iranian hero as he scored three times in the first 20 minutes and there was no way back for the Senegalese from there.
Amir Akbari and Farid Boulobashi were also on the scoresheet for Iran, while Ngalla Sylla’s double and Peyman Hosseini’s own goal accounted for Senegal’s tally.
Elsewhere yesterday, defending champions Russia also maintained their perfect record in Group D with a 5-2 win over Ivory Coast.
Alexey Makarov and Dmitrii Shishin both scored twice as they gave their African opponents their second successive loss to effectively eliminate them from the competition, with little chance of reaching the last eight.
Egor Shaykov completed the scoring for the Russians, with Daniel Kouassitchi and Moustapha Sakanoko getting the consolation goals for Ivory Coast. The Russians need only avoid defeat against Paraguay in their final group game tomorrow to reach the last eight.
Paraguay, who had started the event so well, netting 10 times against Ivory Coast in their first game, were brought back to earth with a 3-1 loss to Japan.
The Japanese, who had to win to stay in contention for qualification, rose to the occasion as Hirofumi Oda gave them the lead after 90 seconds.
They never looked back from there, with goals from Ozu Moreira and Teruki Tabata effectively ending the game by the 14th minute.
Paraguay had the last word with a goal from Pedro Moran, but it was little consolation to the South Americans, who must realistically defeat Russia tomorrow to stay in the tournament, with Japan believed to be the heavy favourites to win against Ivory Coast.