The CONMEBOL (CONfederación SudaMEricana de FútBOL) continental federation consists of all ten nations in South America. World Cup qualification is achieved after all teams play each other in home and away matches with results and goals being totaled in a league format.
Four teams will directly qualify for the World Cup 2014 along with hosts Brazil. The fifth placed team at the end of group matches will have to play in an intercontinental play off against a qualifier from Asia (likelihood being Iran, Qatar or Iraq).
With only 3 or 4 matches played in the qualification group its hard to forecast which teams shall progress. However it’s a safe bet to assume that Uruguay (current leaders and holder of the Copa -America) and Argentina will each claim an automatic place for Brazil.
This leaves 7 teams battling for 2 more automatic places and one play off spot.
Bolivia currently lie last in the qualifying group and if we take their recent form (2 losses but a credible draw in Buenos Aires) together their poor showing in last years Copa America they should not realistically feature in Brazil. Their only slim hope lies with their league side Bolivar who surprisingly qualified for the quarter finals of this year’s Copa Libertadores. If these players carry their club form to a national level they may inflict a surprise or two, especially in the oxygen starved heights of La Paz.
Next are Peru who have recorded two away losses (2-0 vs. Ecuador and 4-2 vs. Chile) and a home win (2-0 vs. Paraguay). Although they lie 2nd bottom Peru may still rocket up the table especially as they a majority of home games left to play.
Despite having an injury depleted side they achieved a highly impressive 3rd place in last years Copa America benefiting from the new tactical vision and experience of Uruguayan coach, Sergio Markarian. Peru can also call on a core of based stars including Jefferson Far Fan and Captain Claudio Pizzaro however their involvement will depend on their relationship with the coach, which has been strained in recent years.
QUALIFICATION CURRENT STANDINGS
Next in the current qualification standings are Paraguay who lie 7th with four points after one home win (2-1 vs. Ecuador), two away losses (2-0 vs Chile and Peru) and one home draw (1-1 vs Uruguay).
Paraguay have consistently qualified for the World Cup since France 1998 and have impressed in the finals twice reaching the quarter finals before being unluckily eliminated. Despite finishing runners up in the Copa America last year their coach, Gerardo Martino opted to resign and passed the reigns onto former player Francisco Chiqui Arce.
La Albirroja (white and red) can boast a forward line including Nelson Valdez, Roque Santa Cruz and Benfica hit man Oscar Cordoza allied to a solid defence and creative midfield. It would be a major surprise if Paraguay did not qualify in some way for Brazil 2014.
to be continued.
The 16 best club teams in the South America (and Mexico) were finally matched together yesterday after Wednesday and Thursday’s Copa Libertadores results completed the group phase.
The seeding system determined the last 16 draw for the Copa Libertadores with the 8 group winners facing the 8 runner ups respectively.
As a result the highlight of the draw brought Group 4 winners, Fluminense with Internacional into an all Brazil tie.
Surprisingly no Uruguayan teams managed to progress to the next round however Bolivar became the first team to qualify for the knock out stage for 12 years, their reward being a double header against the centenary, celebrating Brazilian side Santos.
Mexico has only one representative in Cruz Azul (after Chivas Guadalajara was humbled 5-0 by Deportivo Quito) they must now face Paraguay’s only team Libertad.
Ecuador’s Emelec will face Corinthians and Deportivo Quito plays Universidad de Chile.
Brazilian giants Vasco de Gama will have to overcome Lanus of Argentina while Boca Juniors will play Union Espanola of Chile.
Fluminense (Brazil) vs Internacional (Brazil)
Corinthians (Brazil) vs Emelec (Ecuador)
Santos (Brazil) vs Bolivar (Bolivia)
Universidad de Chile vs Deportivo Quito (Ecuador)
Libertad (Paraguay) vs Cruz Azul (Mexico)
Velez Sarsfield (Arg) vs Atletico Nacional (Columbia)
Lanus (Argentina) vs Vasco da Gama (Brazil)
Union Espanola(Chile) vs Boca Juniors (Argentina)
So, the last 16 is dominated by 5 Brazil teams then 3 Argentineans teams, two sides from Ecuador and Chile leaving one each from Bolivia, Mexico, Columbia and Paraguay.
The 1st legs will be played between May 1st and 3rd and the return matches a week later.
The Ecuadorian Serie A or Primera Categoría Serie A is Ecuador’s national championship contested between 12 teams.
The current champions are Sociedad Deportivo Quito or simply Deportivo who had previously won the championship 4 times before 2011. They currently share the Olympic stadium Atahaulpa with El Nacional, Universidad Católica (Seria B) and the Ecuadorian national team.
Also in the nation’s capital city (or slightly outside) are Independiente José Terán, a small provincial team that proudly sit atop of the league this season.
Quito’s biggest club however is LDU Quito (Liga Deportiva Universitaria de Quito) or La Liga who reside in the Estadio de Liga Deportiva Universitaria or Casa Blanca (White House). Since the 55,000 capacity stadiums inauguration in 1997, La Liga has enjoyed their greatest period of success with 6 national titles and 4 continental titles (the Copa Libertadores, the Copa Sudamericana and the Recopa Sudamericana twice).
Historically, La Liga enjoyed a fierce rivalry with Sociedad Deportiva Aucas (Aucas) also of Quito but in recent years Aucas have failed to reach Serie A and currently reside in the third tier of Ecuadorian football. As a result there has been no possibility for the Superclásico de Quito.
Ecuador’s biggest and most populous city is Guayaquil; however it has only two main football teams in the Seria A.
Barcelona Sporting Club is probably the country’s most popular team and play at the Monumental Banco Pichincha which with a capacity of 60,000 it is the country’s biggest stadium. They also share the most title wins (13) with El Nacional and to date is the only club not to be ever relegated from Ecuador’s premier division.
Barcelona’s great rivals are Emelec also of Guayaquil and their clashes, Clásico del Astillero (the Shipyard derby) is known as the most important and historic game in Ecuador. They play at the Estadio George Capwell (named after a wealthy, American benefactor) and as last runners up qualified for this year’s Copa Libertadores.
The rest of Seria A’s teams are spotted around the country from Manta on the east coast, newly promoted LDU Loja and Deportivo Cuenca from the south, and the centrally situated Macará, Olmedo and Técnico Universitario.
The league format seems to be fairly fluid and changes from year to year but instead of the normal Latin american system of Apertura/Clausura they follow two stages of round robin. The winners of each stage then play for the title (if the same club wins both stages then it is automatic champion) and the the other best placed teams compete for runner up spots and continental competition places.
Thankfully relegation and promotion is two up two down.
Sunday was my first chance to catch a live Ecuadorian football game in the Estadio Olímpico Atahualpa at the heart of the countries capital city, Quito. From outside the stadium looks bashed up and old but it has a character that many of the soulless, modern, sheds in Europe.
Despite being the current champions Deportivo Quito attracted barely 4,000 home fans but the obligatory brass band and drummers more than made up for the empty seats in a 40,000 capacity city.
Independiente, who were playing in a Palermo like pink strip had around 200 solitary fans to cheer them on.
The game itself was a slow affair with the relentless heat obviously restricting any bright passages of play. The uneven pitch didn’t seem to help matters and both teams struggled to control the bobbling ball.
In the end, the away team took all 3 points and were far stronger in the 2nd half . Deportivo were lethargic and generally unimpressive, especially when their star striker was red carded for a stupid hand ball late in the first half.
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