Chile-Brazil the standout game on Matchday 9
High stakes in Peru-Uruguay and Ecuador-Paraguay meetings
2021 Copa America provides a valuable form guide
The South American qualifying competition for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ continues on Thursday, the first of three September matchdays that will mark the halfway stage in the race to next year’s world finals.
The recent Copa America offers a guide to the form of the ten teams, all of whom remain in contention, with only five points separating the sides in third and last place.
FIFA.com looks ahead to Matchday 9.
Thursday 2 September (local time) Bolivia-Colombia (16:00) Ecuador-Paraguay (16:00) Peru-Uruguay (20:00) Venezuela-Argentina (20:00) Chile-Brazil (21:00)
Chile-Brazil, Santiago de Chile (Estadio Monumental)
Chile (seventh on six points) have shown signs of life since Martin Lasarte took over, but need a big result to boost their confidence. What better way of achieving it than beating the only side in the competition with a 100 per cent record?
The problem is, that side is Brazil (first, 18 points), who have no pressure on them and never take their foot off the accelerator. La Roja know that only too well from the last campaign, when a Brazil side that had already qualified ended their chances of making it to Russia 2018.
The stat: Brazil are unbeaten in 23 World Cup qualifying matches. The last team to beat them were none other than Chile, 2-0 victors on Matchday 1 of the Russia 2018 qualifiers, back in October 2015.
Ecuador (third, nine points) play host to Paraguay (sixth, seven points) in a match between a side that has yet to draw a game and another with four draws in their six outings. Though La Tri are unbeaten at home in six to the Paraguayans, La Albirroja have not lost on the road in their last five qualifiers. Both sides have faltered since making fast starts and this match could well be a turning point for one of them.
After collecting a solitary point in their first five games, Peru (tenth, four points) won in Ecuador, placed third at the Copa America, and are now looking to continue their revival against Uruguay (fourth, eight points), another side in search of consistency. La Blanquirroja have lost three in a row at home but entertain a side that has gone more than three matches (197 minutes) without scoring. If Bolivia (eighth, five points) are to move into contention, this could be the matchday to do it. Their current run of three qualifying games without defeat (one win and two draws) is their longest since 2008. However, Colombia (fifth, eight points) have beaten the Bolivians in their last five qualifying encounters, two of those wins coming in La Paz.
Argentina (second, 12 points) travel to Venezuela (ninth, four points) on their biggest high since Lionel Scaloni moved into the hotseat. The newly crowned Copa America champions now have a larger pool of players to call on and are brimming with confidence, having gone 20 matches unbeaten. The match is Leo Gonzalez’s first in charge since he took over as Venezuela caretaker following the departure of his Portuguese predecessor, Jose Peseiro.
Luis Diaz (Colombia)
After starring at the Copa America with four goals in five games, the 24-year-old winger will be crucial to what comes next for Colombia. His consistent club form in Portugal contrasts with his national team’s recent performances, which have ranged from good to bad, though they are placed comfortably enough in the table. A star turn with Porto, Diaz could be just the spark that Los Cafeteros need.
Though his caretaker contract comes to end after the three September qualifiers, Leo Gonzalez has no shortage of experience in Venezuelan football. The 49-year-old played 40 matches and three Copas America for his country and is the sixth former Vinotinto international to coach the national side.