The 2014 FIFA World Cup is right around the corner and the national teams from South America are dreaming of qualifying to play a World Cup in their own continent. With some countries having 5 games left while others have 6 left, all the World Cup positions are up for grabs. This is the best time to analyze what is ahead for each country and what they’re realistic expectations are.
Argentina, led by Higuain, Messi and Di Maria, plowed through Venezuela with a superb 3-0 victory. Four days later, the “Albiceleste” tied 1-1 in a tough match against Bolivia in the high elevation of La Paz.
Up next for Argentina is to host Colombia and to visit Ecuador in Quito. Both will prove to be difficult games due to the outstanding play of both other teams. Whatever the outcome of both games is, however, Argentina should have nothing to worry about and already start thinking about the 23 for the FIFA World Cup.
2. Ecuador (20 points)
Ecuador had a bye for the first match day but still had a friendly match where they dominated El Salvador with a final score of 5-1. In their only qualifying game, they defeated struggling Paraguay 4-1 and scored an outstanding 9 goals in 2 games.
Antonio Valencia, Christian Benitez and Felipe Caicedo played at a top level as usual. However, a great addition to these stars was the outstanding play of 23-year-old midfielder, Jefferson Montero, who will be a central piece of Ecuador for many years to come.
Ecuador now has to go to play the revived Peruvian national team at Lima and receive Argentina. 25 is the magic number to qualify for the World Cup for Ecuador. With difficult games left however, Ecuador has to focus on conquering points at home.
3. Colombia (19 points)
The “Cafeteros” crushed Bolivia 5-0 at home and were the talk of the continent for many days. But then Venezuela stunned them and all South America with a 1-0 loss.
The key for Colombia is for its stars to shine when the moment is right. Radamel Falcao and James Rodriguez struggled against Venezuela and showed that they need to play well for Colombia to succeed.
Colombia has 2 tough matches ahead of them in the next qualifying games. First they have to visit Messi and his first-place Argentina and then host Peru who will do everything possible to win in order to have chances to qualify. Due to their well form in the past, Colombia is a safe bet to go to the World Cup as only a catastrophe would impose them from qualifying.
4. Chile (15 points)
Chile lost in “El Clasico del Pacifico” to Peru in Lima 1-0 with a last minute goal. They redeemed themselves by defeating the tough Uruguayan team 2-0 in Santiago de Chile.
After the dismissal of Coach Borghi, these were the first 2 official matches for Jorge Sampaoli. With Paraguay and Bolivia up next for Chile, the Chilean fans are very confident that they should obtain the next 6 points which would position them to get a good spot to qualify.
5. Venezuela (15 points)
Venezuela was humbled by Argentina with a superb performance from Real Madrid striker, Gonzalo Higuain, as they lost 3-0. However, they played a historic game against Colombia where they were able to beat the hot team 1-0 and keep their World Cup dreams alive.
Venezuela has never played a World Cup in its history and now led by Juan Arango they play Bolivia in La Paz and host Uruguay. These two games will be key too see whether the “Vinotinto’s” dreams are a possibility or just a dream.
6. Uruguay (13 points)
Without a doubt Uruguay’s poor performance is the surprise of these World Cup qualifiers. The 4th place team from the 2010 World Cup and last winner of the Copa America hasn’t been able to win in the last 6 games.
They conceded a late goal to tie 1-1 with Paraguay and lost 2-0 to Chile. Up next for Uruguay is a bye and a visit to the up and coming Venezuelan national team. Uruguay can’t drop any more points and their remaining games are essential for them to qualify to Brazil.
7. Peru (11 points)
Peru had been considered dead by many people, but a 1-0 victory over Chile renewed its hopes of qualifying to the World Cup. Later, they won a friendly against Trinidad & Tobago by 3-0. This friendly was also good because it gave young players such as Yordy Reyna and Cristofer Gonzalez more experience.
Up next for Peru is a must-win game against Ecuador and then a tough match at Colombia. In order for Peru to qualify to their first World Cup since Spain 1982, they must win their remaining home matches.
8. Bolivia (9 points)
It is wrong to lie to ourselves. Bolivia has no chances of qualifying for the World Cup. It is difficult for other teams to play at La Paz but their team is too limited. It is even weaker now that their top goal scorer, Marcelo Moreno Martins, renounced to the national team and will no longer be a part of the team.
They lost 5-0 in a humiliating defeat to Colombia and were able to get a 1-1 tie with powerful Argentina.
Bolivia has Venezuela and Chile up next and is now a judge for the qualification of the other hopeful teams.
9. Paraguay (8 points)
Paraguay is no longer the team that was a powerhouse in South American soccer. Its defense is weak and they get lots of goals scored on. They changed their coach and got a 1-1 tie in Uruguay but later got run over 4-1 to Ecuador.
Paraguay plays only Chile next and then must win all of their remaining games left to have a little hope for qualification. Something that is extremely difficult in these qualifiers.