Giants on qualification cusp ahead of congested pack

  • Brazil could seal qualification this week

  • Argentina need results to go their way to advance with four games to spare

  • Behind them, only six points separate third from ninth

Brazil could become the first team from South America to reach the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™, when the first of November’s two matchdays in the CONMEBOL preliminaries comes to a close. Argentina could qualify in the next few days as well, though they need a series of results to go their way for that to happen. looks ahead to another crucial double-header, not least for the teams occupying the places between third and ninth, which are separated by just six points.



Friday, 12 November Uruguay-Argentina

On the cusp

Brazil will book their ticket to Qatar on 11 November if they beat Colombia, or draw with Colombia and Argentina beat Uruguay. A Seleção will also advance if they win both their next games. The second of them is in Argentina, where they have gone unbeaten on their last two visits (a win and a draw). Argentina also have a chance of progressing over the course of the double-header. To do so, they need to win both their matches and wait for results elsewhere to leave them more than 12 points ahead of fifth place with just four matchdays remaining. La Albiceleste are unbeaten in three against their first opponents, La Celeste.

All to play for

Ecuador have spent the last ten matchdays in the direct qualification places and have an excellent chance of staying there when they entertain bottom-placed Venezuela, a team they have beaten on five of the six occasions they have hosted them in World Cup qualifiers. Another victory in that sequence will make their journey to Chile all the more comfortable, though they have recorded only two draws in 12 visits to La Roja. Having drawn their last three matches 0-0, Colombia will need to work hard to stay in fourth. First up for them is a trip to Brazil, where they have picked up just two points in seven previous visits, followed by a home game with Paraguay, whose record in their last five trips to Colombia reads won three, drawn one, lost one.

Though a series of underwhelming results has undermined the Uruguay push, their veteran coach Oscar Tabarez is confident they can get back on track. La Celeste will have several key players out through injury for two daunting matches: a home game with neighbours Argentina and a trip to La Paz to face Bolivia. Chile will hope to keep their revival going against two direct rivals experiencing contrasting fortunes, with an away day against inconsistent Paraguay followed by a home game against an Ecuador side with a gift for churning out results. In winning their last two matches, La Roja scored five and conceded none and have the play-off spot in their sights for the first time since Matchday 4.

Last chance

Bolivia are back in business and full of hope, lying just four points off that play-off place with six games remaining. To stay in the hunt, La Verde need a good result in Peru, where they have only two draws (in 2013 and 2001) and a win (1989) to show for their efforts in nine visits. Then comes a home game with Uruguay, a side they have lost to in their last three meetings, including a 2-0 reverse in La Paz in 2015. Paraguay dropped down to eighth in October, their lowest position since the qualifying competition began, with coach Eduardo Berizzo paying for their poor form with his job. His replacement is another Argentinian, Guillermo Barros Schelotto, who begins his reign against a resurgent Chile side with a prime objective in mind: to see his new side score again after three games without a goal.

Peru welcome the revitalised Bolivia and visit struggling Venezuela. Five points adrift of the play-off place, La Blanquirroja need to extend their three-match unbeaten home run (two wins and a draw) and end a sequence of three defeats without scoring on the road. Lastly, Venezuela cannot afford any more slip-ups. To keep their slim hopes alive, they must win in Ecuador, where they have come away with three points on only one occasion (in 2007), and against Peru, a side they have failed to beat in their last three meetings. Even then, La Vinotinto will still need results elsewhere to go their way to have a chance of qualifying.

The stat

32 The number of years since Bolivia recorded their one and only World Cup qualifying win in Peru: a 2-1 victory on 10 September 1989, with their goals coming from Tito Montano and Erwin Sanchez. That win is one of only three the Bolivians have secured on the road in the World Cup preliminaries. The other two both came in Venezuela: one in March 1977 and the other in July 1993.

Did you know?

A multiple trophy winner with Boca Juniors in his playing days, Guillermo Barros Schelotto is about to embark on his first national team coaching job with Paraguay. The 48-year-old Argentinian has only coached clubs to date, winning the Copa Sudamericana 2013 with Lanus and two Argentinian league titles with Boca, in 2016/17 and 2017/18. His last job was with Major League Soccer side Los Angeles Galaxy.