Tight at the top of CONMEBOL table

After a poor start, Colombia got their campaign back on track in dramatic fashion on Tuesday. Following on from their excellent 4 – 0 win against Uruguay on Friday “El cafeteros” turned over Chile 3 – 1 in Santiago.

Falcao

Colombia’s Falcoa celebrates

Despite going behind just before half-time through Matias Fernandez, Colombia rallied in the second half with goals from Rodriguez, Falcoa and Gutierrez. Both teams finished the match with ten men.

Uruguay eventually managed to scrape a draw against Ecuador, thanks largely to a totally inept refereeing display form Carlos Amarilla. The Ecuadorians had the measure of their hosts for the majority of the game and deservedly went ahead through a Felipe Caicedo penalty in 9 minutes. Edison Cavani restored parity in 67 minutes for Uruguay but not before Ecuador was denied a stone-wall penalty.

Caicedo for Ecuador

Christain Benitez had raced forward upon goal but when he rounded the keeper he was crudely, bundled to the ground.  A penalty and goal-keeper red card seemed obvious but the referee opted to book Benitez for diving. To rub salt into their wounds the referee also sent off Ecuador’s captain and talisman Antonio Valencia. The Manchester United winger now automatically misses the next two games.

Chile          1-3       Colombia

Uruguay       1-1     Ecuador

Paraguay     0-2      Venezuela

     Peru        1-1       Argentina

 

Paraguay tumbled to another defeat realistically ending their qualification chances for Brazil 2014. This is all the more surprising with consideration that they have qualified for the last 4 World Cups and improved each time. Salomon Rondon grabbed a gaol either side of half time for Venezuela to earn a precious away win.

 

In Lima, Peru recorded a credible draw against group favourites Argentina. The hosts had already missed a third minute penalty before took the lead in 22 minutes through Eintracht Frankfurt’s Carlos Zambrano. Argentina’s Higuian got the equalizer just before half-time.

 

 

 

 

 

CONMEBAL Qualification table

Team         P        W      D       L        GF     GA    Pts

Argentina      7              4              2              1              15           6              14

Colombia       7              4              1              2              12           6              13

Ecuador           7              4              1              2              8              7              13

Uruguay          7              3              3              1              15           11           12

Chile                 7               4              0              3              12           13           12

Venezuela    8              3              2              3              7              8              11

Peru                  7                2              1              4              9              13           7

Bolivia             7               1              1              5              7              12           4

Paraguay        7              1              1              5              5              14           4

This month’s double header results have left Bolivia and Paraguay rooted to the bottom of the table adrift of everyone else.  With 4 points separating the top 6 teams and only 4 automatic qualification spots there is all to play for.

Uruguay has suffered the greatest with a 4 – o humbling and a poor home draw and they must improve if they don’t want to slide further down the table. Similarly Chile has lost form after leading the table.

Colombia and Ecuador are the major surprises so far but again next month’s results should tell us much more.

Next month’s CONMEBOL World Cup qualifying fixtures.

FRIDAY, OCTOBER 12, 2012

Argentina            v             Uruguay

Bolivia  v             Peru

Colombia            v             Paraguay

Ecuador                v             Chile

TUESDAY, OCTOBER 16, 2012

Bolivia  v             Uruguay

Chile     v             Argentina

Paraguay             v             Peru

Venezuela          v             Ecuador

South American (CONMEBOL) World Cup qualifying (part 3).

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.

Lionel Messi

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.