Records are there to be broken, or so the saying goes. And there are three of them that the away teams in action in tomorrow's four South American qualifying games for the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™ are anxious to bring an end. FIFA.com has the details on those hoodoos as it previews Matchday 3 in the CONMEBOL Zone, which features repeat stagings of three of the games at the Copa America 2011.
There will be some very notable absentees when Uruguay line up against Chile at the Centenario. The only unbeaten member of the seven teams to have played two games in the group, La Celeste will have to make do without Diego Forlan, Walter Gargano, Abel Hernandez and Jorge Fucile, while La Roja have selection problems of their own after Jorge Valdivia, Jean Beausejour, Carlos Carmona, Arturo Vidal and Gonzalo Jara were dropped for disciplinary reasons. The Chileans also have history to contend with, having lost five of their six FIFA World Cup qualifiers in Montevideo. The only time they came away with something from the Uruguayan capital was in 2007, when the great Marcelo Salas scored his last competitive international goals in a 2-2 draw.
Argentina and Bolivia face off just months after their surprise 1-1 draw in the opening match of the Copa America. If their record in Buenos Aires is anything to go by, however, the Bolivians will have a hard job repeating that scoreline, having failed to collect a single point in eight qualifying visits to the city. Shorn of the injured Angel di Maria, Alejandro Sabella’s side will hope to make it up to their fans after last month’s defeat in Venezuela. Pointless after their first two games, La Verde boss Gustavo Quinteros will have other ideas about that.
Venezuela’s trip to neighbouring Colombia is the only game featuring two sides that won on their last outings. Leonel Alvarez’s Cafeteros are intent on maintaining their perfect start, although La Vinotinto will not be lacking in confidence after their historic 1-0 defeat of the Argentinians. With five defeats in six trips, Venezuela's FIFA World Cup qualifying record in Colombia does not bode well, though they did win the other game in that series, which was played in Barranquilla, the venue for Friday’s match.
Finally, Paraguay will have high hopes of collecting their first win in the section when they entertain Ecuador in Asuncion, a city La Tri have visited on six occasions in qualifying matches and lost every time. Los Guaraníes have been in inconsistent form to date, registering a defeat and a draw in their opening two matches. While their coach Francisco Arce will be keen to avoid a further setback, Reinaldo Rueda’s charges remain buoyant after seeing off Venezuela in their one and only group outing to date.
Player to watch
Alexis Sanchez (CHI)
The Barcelona attacker returns to international duty after recovering from the muscle tear that caused him to miss their first two Brazil 2014 qualifiers. Sanchez has happy memories of facing the Uruguayans, who provided the opposition when he scored his last official goal, in the Copa America in July. Known as El Niño Maravilla (The Wonder Kid) since his early days, the Chile star has confirmed he is ready to play the full 90 minutes in what will be his 13th FIFA World Cup preliminary, a game he believes will see Chile end their Centenario curse.
What they said
Pablo Zabaleta, Argentina right-back: “We need the fans to get behind the team. That’s what counts. It’ll be up to us then to get them going and to excite them, but we’re working hard and giving our all.”