The coming international double header may provide the opportunity for some countries to move ahead and away from the pack. Uruguay and Argentina have only one game to play but as home ties should feel confident in extending their lead at the top of the table to 10 points.
However with Venezuela and Ecuador close behind and benefiting from two games they could overtake the current leaders and favourites.
Saturday June 2nd
Uruguay v Venezuela
Bolivia v Chile
Argentina v Ecuador
Sunday June 3rd
Peru v Colombia
Saturday June 9th
Bolivia v Paraguay
Venezuela v Chile
Sunday June 10th
Ecuador v Colombia
Venezuela faces a tough trip to Montevideo followed by a home tie versus Chile. La Vinotinto (The Burgundy) have never qualified for a World Cup but are currently enjoying their most successful period. After a best ever 4rth position in last year’s Copa America they now lay 3rd after 4 games.
With most of their players now playing in Europe Venezuela has a strong squad which includes the likes of Juan Arango (Borussia Mönchengladbach), José Salomón Rondón (Malgaga) and Nicolas Fedor (Getafe) in attack.
Allied to this they have an imposing centre half duo in Oswaldo Vizcarrondo (Club America), who scored the only goal in their last competitive match against Bolivia in November and veteran José Manuel Rey (Deportivo Lara).
Venezuela vs Bolivia (November 2011)
Indeed ring rustiness may be a factor in Venezuela’s coming games as they have only played friendly games this year and with mixed results (defeats against Spain, Costa Rica, the USA , Mexico and one win against Moldova).
These two difficult games will go a long way to determining Venezuela’s qualification even at this relatively early stage.
QUALIFICATION CURRENT STANDINGS
Team P W D L GF GA Pts
Uruguay 3 2 1 0 9 3 7
Argentina 4 2 1 1 7 4 7
Venezuela 4 2 1 1 3 3 7
Ecuador 3 2 0 1 5 2 6
Chile 4 2 0 2 7 10 6
Colombia 3 1 1 1 4 4 4
Paraguay 4 1 1 2 3 6 4
Peru 3 1 0 2 4 6 3
Bolivia 4 0 1 3 4 8 1
It’s hard to imagine a World Cup without Argentina and without the unnerving influence of Diego Maradona this time, La Albiceleste (The White and Sky Blue) should easily qualify for Brazil. Despite a disappointing World Cup and an even more disappointing Copa America on home soil, Argentina currently have a side to match any on the planet.
Captain and current World player of the year Lionel Messi again has had an impressive season with Barcelona. Although he has not managed to win any major trophies this year his goal tally has reached an unmatched 73 in all competitions. It only remains to see if he can replicate his club form as so far for Argentina he has largely disappointed.
With a triumvirate of Messi, Kun Aguero (Man City) and Higuaín (Real Madrid) and back-up in Tevez (Man City), Lavezzi (Napoli) or Milito (Inter) it is hard to match the attacking potency of Argentina.
Similarly in midfield Di Maria (Real Madrid), Pastore(PSG) Maxi Rodriguez (Liverpool) have the guile and creativeness to create while Mascherano (Barcelona) and Cambiasso (Inter) can provide the defensive cover for the likes of Burdisso (Roma) and Zabaleta (Man City).
Argentina must keep pace with leaders Uruguay and can ill afford another slip up at home alike against Bolivia in November. Too many home draws could mean all the difference in a tight qualifying group especially when the still have to visit the oxygen starved Andean nations.