As anyone in football will tell you, statistics can be misleading while sequences, no matter how good or bad, all come to an end sometime. With this in mind, FIFA.com delivers some interesting facts and figures ahead of Matchday 13 in South American Zone qualifying for the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™.
Uruguay-Brazil: hope for Celeste
As two halves of one of the oldest and most fierce rivalries in international football, Uruguay and Brazil have met on seven previous occasions in FIFA World Cup qualifying. So far, A Seleção have prevailed twice (scoring ten goals in all), the Celeste once (eight goals), with the remaining four fixtures ending all square. The sole Charrúa victory came in their Estadio Centenario in Montevideo in July 2001, when a Federico Magallanes penalty secured Victor Pua's men a 1-0 win en route to Korea/Japan 2002.
On the other two occasions the pair have contested qualifiers in the Uruguayan capital, the games have ended 1-1. The most recent of these was on 30 March 2005 when, with Jorge Fossati at the helm, the locals went ahead through Diego Forlan only for Emerson to secure a share of the spoils for Brazil.
Bolivia-Venezuela: seven and counting
Bolivia have by far the better record in this fixture, having won eight and lost just four of the 13 qualifiers, and outscored their opponents by 43 goals to 17. On home soil, their numbers have been even more impressive, La Verde having taken maximum points in all six of their showdowns, averaging almost four goals a game in the process. La Vinotinto will not need reminding about their painful 7-0 defeat there in 1993, the 6-1 reverse in 1996, or the 5-0 loss in 2001, nor that they have failed to score in four of their seven visits.
The last time Bolivia welcomed their northern opponents to the Estadio Hernando Siles in La Paz was on 29 March 2005, when they ran out comfortable 3-1 winners. Wearing the No10 shirt for the hosts that day was none other than their current coach Erwin Sanchez.
Argentina-Colombia: the spectre of 1993
Argentina continue to have the edge over Colombia in FIFA World Cup qualifiers, with six wins (and 16 goals) to their opponents three (13). The remaining two meetings have been draws.
La Albiceleste recorded three of those wins on home soil, but their most famous qualifying showdown with Los Cafeteros in Buenos Aires ended in a shock 5-0 reverse on 5 September 1993. Freddy Rincon (2), Faustino Asprilla (2) and Adolfo Valencia did the damage that day in what remains Argentina's only home defeat in FIFA World Cup qualifying tournaments.
Since that defeat, Argentina have won twice and drawn once against their opponents on home soil. After a 1-1 draw in 1997, they prevailed 3-0 in 2001 (courtesy of Cristian Gonzalez, Claudio Lopez and Hernan Crespo) and 1-0 in 2005 (Crespo). Their first home victory over Colombia in this competition was a 1-0 win back in 1985 (Jorge Valdano), a match that featured current coach Diego Maradona as his nation's captain.
Paraguay-Chile: Guaraní in the ascendancy
The bare stats point to a home win for Paraguay in this fixture, with La Albirroja having beaten this weekend's opponents in their last four qualifyiers. All told, in their 13 meetings to date in this competition, Paraguay have triumphed on eight occasions (23 goals) to Chile's four (14).
The Guaranís have been especially impressive in Asuncion, where they have bettered La Roja in five of their six battles. The one blemish came in 1981, the year a Patricio Yanez strike earned the visitors a 1-0 win on only their second visit to the Paraguayan capital. The pair's most recent qualifier there took place in March 2005, when goals from Gustavo Morinigo and Jose Cardozo earned a 2-1 win for the hosts.
Peru-Ecuador: no friendly visits
In our fifth and final fixture, it is the visiting Ecuadorians who can take heart from recent history, their last qualifying defeat in Peru, a 4-0 reverse, stretching right back to March 1977. Of a total of nine qualifiers, El Tricolor emerged triumphant four times and shared the spoils on a further four occasions, netting 17 times all told.
In fact, things ended all square the last time the pair faced off in Peru, with Jose Guerrero and Jefferson Farfan scoring for the locals, and Ulises de Cruz and Luis Valencia finding the target for their northern neighbours during a Germany 2006 qualifier. In November 2007, by contrast, Ecuador showed no mercy whatsoever, consigning Peru to a 5-1 defeat on Matchday 4 of the current campaign.