CONMEBOL team of week 9 (12/10/2012)

Week 9 saw Argentina, Ecuador and Colombia win and move away from the pack. The qualifying group has now split into 3 parts with Chile and Uruguay losing form in the last 3 games.

Messi was at his imperial best against Uruguay. It has often been touted that little Leo does not perform for his country and cannot replicate his Barcelona form. This qualifying campaign, and the recent Brazil friendly largely dispels this myth.

His second goal was particularly impressive. It wasn’t as spectacular as his recent free-kick against Real Madrid but it was the apparent simplicity and ease in his execution to slip the ball low past the keeper.

BOLIVIA  1 (Chumacero 51′) PERU 1 (Marion0 21′)

COLOMBIA 2 (Falcoa 52′, 90′) PARAGUAY 0

ECUADOR 3 (Caicedo 33′,56′, Castillo 93′) CHILE (Paredes OG 25′)

ARGENTINA 3 (Messi 66′,80′ Aguero 75′) URUGUAY 0


In Quito, Ecuador finally broke down a stubborn Chile after initially going behind. A couple of rash challenges had Chile eventually go down to 9 men and Ecuador took full advantage. Their tormentor in chief was Felipe Caicedo who continued his impressive international form and scored his 3rd and 4th goals in 3 games.


Man of the moment Radamel Falcao scored a brace against bottom dwelling Paraguay while in La Paz, Bolivia and Peru recorded 1-1 draw helping neither of their qualification chances.

My best 11 of last Friday’s games:



Ecuador can go top of the table with win against Chile

If results go their way on Friday and Tuesday, Ecuador could top the CONMEBOL table and bolster their World Cup qualification chances.

The coming games against Chile at home then Venezuela in Caracas are not the easiest, but winnable even without some key players.

Antonio Valencia will sit out the Chile game through suspension and Jairo Campos has ruptured his Achilles but apart from that Ecuador have a full strength squad.

Christian Noboa returns after suspension and Jefferson Montero is back after missing the game in Uruguay through injury.

Ecuadorian coach Reinalda Rueda should be aiming for at least 4 points from these two games. In last month’s game against Bolivia is team were fairly dreadful and had to rely on a poor penalty decision to take 3 points. In Montevideo their fortune was reversed and they suffered because of shambolic refereeing display.

Ecuador’s last 5 games

Sep 11, 2012       Uruguay 1 – Ecuador 1    WCQ

Sep 7, 2012         Ecuador 1 – Bolivia 0        WCQ

Aug 16, 2012       Ecuador 3 – Chile 0           Friendly

Jun 10, 2012        Ecuador 1 – Colombia 0  WCQ

Jun 2, 2012          Argentina 4 – Ecuador 0 WCQ

It’s difficult to make any inferences form August’s friendly game as it was in the USA and Chile did not look like they took it so seriously. But their last game against a resurgent Colombia was very disappointing.

Chile’s superstars are Alexis Sanchez (Barcelona) and Eduardo Vargas (Napoli) but they have a spread of players in most of the top leagues in Europe. Currently Chile also has a strong domestic league and teams like Universidad de Chile, Colo Colo and Universidad Catolica usually compete in the latter stages of the Copa Libertadores and Copa Sudamericana.

I doubt Chile will be as negative and defensive as Bolivia or Colombia in the Atahaulpa stadium but I still expect them to play on the counter attack.

Chile’s last 5 games

Sep 11, 2012       Chile 1 – Colombia 3         WCQ

Aug 16, 2012       Ecuador 3 – Chile 0           Friendly

Jun 9, 2012          Venezuela 0 – Chile 2      WCQ

Jun 2, 2012          Bolivia 0 – Chile 2               WCQ

Apr 12, 2012       Peru 0 – Chile 3                Friendly

Ecuador has better form going to Friday’s game and should take confidence from their recent friendly win. Competitive games between the countries have been tight affairs.

Head to Head

Aug 16, 2012       Ecuador 3 – Chile 0          Friendly

Oct 14, 2009        Chile 1 – Ecuador 0           WCQ

Oct 12, 2008        Ecuador 1 – Chile 0           WCQ

Jun 27, 2007        Ecuador 2 – Chile 3          Copa America

Game Prediction :  Ecuador 2 Chile 0

CONMEBOL Qualification table

                      P            W        D         L          GF       GA      GD      Pts

 Argentina           7              4              2              1              15           6              +9           14

 Colombia           7              4              1              2              12           6              +6           13

 Ecuador               7              4              1              2              8              7              +1           13

 Uruguay              7              3              3              1              15           11           +4           12

 Chile                  7                4              0              3              12           13           -1            12

 Venezuela         8              3              2              3              7              8              -1            11

 Peru                    7               2              1              4              9              13           -4            7

 Bolivia                 7              1              1              5              7              12           -5            4

 Paraguay            7              1              1              5              5              14           -9            4


Realistically, unless they turn around their poor form Paraguay, Bolivia and Peru are out of contention for one of the 5 qualification spots. However with only 3 points between the top 6 any of the other nations can aspire to be in Brazil.

Hope comes with double Fletcher return for Scotland


Friday will see the return of both Fletchers but which one will have the greatest effect on the already faltering World Cup qualification campaign?

Scotland captain and Manchester United midfielder, Darren Fletcher should return to bolster a weak looking centre of the team. Fletcher’s calming influence and dynamism was sorely missed in the recent games against both Serbia and Macedonia.

His unexpected return to first team action in the EPL and Champions league for United after a career threatening illness has provided the long suffering Tartan Army with a rare boost.

After an inauspicious start at Old Trafford Fletcher has gone on to become a regular starter in Alex Ferguson’s team. Combative and cultured, on his day Fletcher can make the difference in midfield, even popping up with the occasional goal. Although slight in build he is capable of bossing the midfield with tenacious tackling and solid marking.

Aged 28 Fletcher has made 58 appearances for Scotland, scoring 5 goals. He is an integral part of the Scotland team and a rare class player in a quality starved squad. The only question that remains is if he can last for two tough international after such a long absence especially as against Belgium he will, alike his team-mates spend a lot of time chasing the ball.

Scott Brown will also return to the squad for the game against Wales and his partnership with Fletcher should give Scotland a strong midfield base.






Steven Fletcher returns to the Scotland squad after a 2 year self-imposed absence. During the summer he completed a £14 million transfer to Sunderland and since then has started the seasons impressively scoring all of the Black Cat’s goals. Fletcher is an accomplished striker and target man with a decent record in the EPL. Although he does not do the running and tracking back of Kenny Miller Craig Mackail Smith he is deadly in front of goal. His starting 11 inclusion is a “no brainer” it just remains to be seen if he receives the adequate service to convert chances.

The childish spat between Fletcher and Craig Levein was finally healed, after media and fan pressure last week hopefully their new found amity will produce results on Friday and Tuesday.


Squad for games against Wales and Belgium:



Matt Gilks (Blackpool), Allan McGregor (Besiktas), David Marshall (Cardiff City)


Christophe Berra (Wolves), Gary Caldwell (Wigan Athletic), Daniel Fox (Southampton), Grant Hanley (Blackburn Rovers), Alan Hutton (Aston Villa), Russell Martin (Norwich City), Charlie Mulgrew (Celtic), Andy Webster (Heart of Midlothian)


Charlie Adam (Stoke), Scott Brown (Celtic), Darren Fletcher (Manchester United), James Forrest (Celtic), James McArthur (Wigan Athletic), Shaun Maloney (Wigan Athletic), James Morrison (West Bromwich Albion), Robert Snodgrass (Norwich City)


Steven Fletcher (Sunderland), Jamie Mackie (Queens Park Rangers), Kenny Miller (Vancouver Whitecaps), Matt Phillips (Blackpool), Jordan Rhodes (Blackburn Rovers)


Although the inclusion of both Fletchers and Scott Brown has been praised by all there are still many criticising Levein’s omission of Celtic midfielder, Kris Commons. Although Commons has started the SPL well and impressed in Europe the Scotland coach has again omitted the player from his squad, even after Steven Naismith’s 2 match ban for violent conduct. His non-inclusion is puzzling in the extreme.


probable team to face Wales on Friday 12th October:


Scotland 4-4-2 football formation


On paper Wales are too daunting an opponent but they do have two genuine European class players in Gareth Bale and Aaron Ramsay. The Celtic duo of Adam Matthews and Joe Ledley should not hold any surprises however Joe Allen in midfield will be a player to watch. The Welsh have had a poor start to their campaign and are coming off a 6 – 1 hiding against Serbia. They know already that a loss to Scotland may end their faint qualification hope.s


Wales 4-4-2 football formation

Belgium have an extremely talented group of players at present.Not only is the majority of the team playing in the EPL but they are also flourishing for their respective teams, all of which are currently in the top 6 or in the Champions League.

Dembele, Hazard, Felliani and Lukaku have hit the new season running and Vincent Company was the player of the season last year.Added to this Vertonghen, Vermaelen and Van Buyten (the three V,s??) are experienced quality defenders.


Belgium football formation



All to play for in CONMEBOL qualifiers


Such is the format of South American (CONMEBOL) qualifying that one double header of matches can drastically change the various team standings. While Bolivia,Peru and Paraguay look to be increasingly separated from the pack all the other teams still have realistic chances of qualification. Especially with 5 possible berths for Brazil up for grabs.

Unsurprisingly Argentina lead the pack but only by a solitary point over Ecuador and a resurgent Colombia.

1 Argentina 7 4 2 1 15 6 9 14
2 Ecuador 7 4 1 2 8 7 1 13
3 Colombia 7 4 1 2 12 6 6 13
4 Uruguay 7 3 3 1 15 11 4 12
5 Chile 7 4 0 3 12 13 -1 12
6 Venezuela 8 3 2 3 7 8 -1 11
7 Peru 7 2 1 4 9 13 -4 7
8 Bolivia 7 1 1 5 7 12 -5 4
9 Paraguay 7 1 1 5 5 14 -9 4
Of all the teams to compete next week Argentina, Chile, Uruguay and Ecuador have the most to gain with 2 matches each. The only problem is they are competing for the same 6 points.
The glamour tie on Friday is Argentina vs Uruguay with Messi, Arguero, Tevez against Suarez, Cavani and Ramirez. A win for either may see them top the table, a loss and it’s a long plane journey to their respective  away ties following.
Ecuador have two winnable games against Chile at home the Venezuela away. 6 points would see them rocket to the top depending on Argentina’s results.
Time Stage Venue
20:00 GMT Bolivia  v  Peru Qualifying Stage Hernando Siles
20:30 GMT Colombia  v  Paraguay Qualifying Stage Roberto Meléndez
21:00 GMT Ecuador  v  Chile Qualifying Stage Atahualpa
00:00 GMT Argentina  v  Uruguay Qualifying Stage Mundialista Mendoza
Time Stage Venue
20:00 GMT Bolivia  v  Uruguay Qualifying Stage Hernando Siles
22:00 GMT Paraguay  v  Peru Qualifying Stage Defensores del Chaco
22:00 GMT Venezuela  v  Ecuador Qualifying Stage General Anzoátegui
00:05 GMT Chile  v  Argentina Qualifying Stage Estadio Nacional Julio Martínez

Ecuador may go into double header without Valencia

Ecuador may go into Friday’s qualifier against Chile without their only true superstar and talisman, Antonio Valencia. The Manchester United winger is carrying an injury and it will be last minute race for his inclusion.

It’s hard to over-emphasis the dependency of Ecuador upon Valencia. Most of the national teams attacking play flow down the right wing and with Valencia’s bombing runs or link up play with Juan Carlos Paredes.

In last month’s qualifier, Bolivia doubled upped on Valencia neutralising his effect upon the game and it was a ploy that nearly got them a point. Chile should be more adventurous but still mindful of the Valencia effect.

Ecuador 4-4-2 football formation


Luckily “El Tri” has a relative amount of depth in their squad and Vitesse Arnhem’s; Renato Ibarra may be called upon to fill the void. Added to this Christian Noboa will return after suspension and livewire, Jefferson Montero comes back after pulling his hamstring versus Bolivia.

Ecuador is strong in midfield. Luis Saritama is a cultured “centro-campista” who has the ability to link midfield to attack well and spray incisive passes down the sides. Personally I feel he is underrated and overlooked.

Similarly Segundo Castillo and Oswaldo Minda are competent midfielders with experience abroad.

In attack Ecuador also have genuine quality. Christian Benitez is currently banging them in in Mexico for giants Club America. Hardly a week goes by without him claiming a goal in a strong national league. Although not tall by European standards Benitez has great strength and blistering speed.

In all likelihood he will be partnered by Felipe Caicedo, once of Manchester City. After a brief hiatus from the national team Caicedo has returned to claim two goals in the last two games: both penalties against Bolivia then Uruguay. The Barcelona partnership of Michael Arroyo and Narciso Mina should provide back up in attrack.

Ecuador’s one other injury problem is centre half Jairo Campo who has severely torn his Achilles and will sit out all football for at least two months. His omission is a blow for Ecuador as he is a dominant leader in defence but Jorge Guagua or Friksen Arazo should ably deputise for the games against Chile and Venezeula.


 Jairo Campos

It all got too much for the players of Pelileo SC at the weekend and they took their frustration out on the referee in dramatic fashion.

Obviously questioning some of the refs decisions the players decided to enact retribution and attacked in a shameful fashion.

Alike many football fights their wasn’t many upper-cuts or jabs but plenty of girly kicks and jumping around.


The goalkeeper,  “Maravilla” Martínez (white No.23) was antagoniser  in chief and surely must be looking at a life ban from football. That being said his wide left sided attack may attract the attention of the army who may give him the option of another career.

You can watch the full fight on the following link:

courtesy of

Levein’s starting 11 versus Macedonia

4 hours before the game starts and Craig Levein has already announced that Jamie Mackie, James Forrest and Shaun Maloney will replace Charlie Adam, Robert Snodgrass and Steven Naismith.

The only question on every Scottish fans lips is: Why no Jordan Rhodes?

Kenny Miller looked knackered at half-time on Saturday and Rhodes had an immediate effect even with only 10 minutes to impress.

At least Levein has made changes but he hasn’t gone the whole hog.

Scotland 4-4-2 football formation

Predicted formations for Uruguay vs Ecuador

Uruguay are coming off a 4- o hiding against Colombia on Friday and have slipped to 4rth in the CONMEBOL table. A combination of the relentless heat, a bad start and some iffy goal keeping contributed to their dramatic collapse. Anything less than a win  for Oscar Taberez’s team would be disastrous.

“That goal calmed their nerves and put us as the away team into a difficult position,” said Tabarez after the game.

“We were always chasing the game throughout after that, though, I admit it is a shocking and disappointing result.”

The defeat in Barranquilla follows a poor Olympics in London but was generally surprising considering “La Celeste’s” fine performances in the last World Cup and Copa America.

They should set-up with an attacking front  3 of Forlan, Cavani and Suarez and be expected to take the offensive initiative.

                         Uruguay 4-3-3 football formation

Ecuador struggled to overcome a stubborn Bolivia on Friday and in the end needed a dubious penalty to save their blushes. Realistically a draw would be a fine result for “El Tri” especially as Uruguay will be hurting after their thumping against Colombia.

Jeffersom Montero pulled up with a hamstring injury on Friday and should be replaced by Michael Arroyo of Barcelona while Caicedo should start after making an impression and scoring a goal versus Bolivia.

Christain “chuco” Benitez will come back after suspension and maybe expected to plow a lone furrow up-front against Uruguay, depending on Reinalda Rueda’s attacking pretensions.

I doubt Uruguay will be as defensive as Bolivia

Ecuador 4-4-2 football formation

Scotland disappoint again and have it all to do against Macedonia







A chorus of boos at the final whistle left Craig Levein in doubt of the fans feelings of the match. As usual there is a prevailing feeling that this was an opportunity lost and an error that will come back and bite us on the arse.

Serbia enjoyed the bulk of possession without creating many clear cut chances. At the death they could have stolen the three points but luckily, Alan McGregor our only truly European class player saved our bacon.

Throughout the match Scotland surrendered possession at will and were limited in attack. Paul Dixon had an impressive debut at left back however Alan Hutton on the right again left his defence open countless times.

Caldwell and Berra were average at best while Charlie Adam was wasteful with his passing and free-kicks.


Of all the players Robert Snodgrass impressed me the most. He looked capable of attacking and got into the faces of the Serbians. In the second half he was substituted for James Forrest.

Kenny Miller was industrious as always but the 33 year old veteran tired dramatically in the second half. It seemed as if everyone in Scotland, apart from Craig Levein knew he had to be replaced. Especially with new wunder-kid Jordan Rhodes waiting on the bench.

In the end Rhodes and Jamie Mackie got barely 10 minutes to impress, and they did.

In the end the pre-match optimism was unfounded. One point was not disastrous but anything less against Macedonia will be.


Proposed line up for Macedonia game:



The knives are well and truly out for Craig Levein. If he loses or draws on Tuesday he has to go.

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