Brazil, Argentina reach Qatar as Uruguay’s hopes fade
Brazil and Argentina qualified for Qatar 2022 on Matchdays 13 and 14
Ecuador won both their outings to consolidate third place
Only four points separate fourth from ninth
As expected, Brazil and Argentina became the first teams from South America to qualify for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™, following November’s double-header. Behind them come Ecuador, who lie six points clear of their closest challengers. In the race for the remaining qualification places, a mere six points separates the six sides still in contention. FIFA.com rounds up the action from the last two matchdays.
Brazil made sure of their place in Qatar when Lucas Paqueta scored the only goal to see off Colombia at home on the first of the two matchdays. A Neymar-less Seleção then impressed in a goalless draw away to Argentina, a result that took their unbeaten run in World Cup qualifiers to 15. Argentina recorded their first win in Uruguay for 12 years and followed up with that point at home to Brazil. That result, combined with those elsewhere, confirmed La Albiceleste’s earliest-ever qualification since the current competition system was adopted.
All but one still in the race
Ecuador were one of two teams to collect all six points on offer, helping them to consolidate their hold on third place. A hard-fought home win over Venezuela was followed by a historic triumph in Chile, allowing them to open-up a six point gap on fourth. La Tri have now gone 296 minutes without conceding. The goals have dried up for Colombia, who have failed to score since Matchday 10. Even so, they will end the year in the final qualification place, after an otherwise disappointing goalless draw at home to Paraguay. For all their problems up front, they owe their fourth place to their superior goal difference to Peru, who are tied with them on 17 points.
Peru were the other side to win both games, overpowering Bolivia at home and then griding out a victory in Venezuela, a place where they have rarely prospered. Gianluca Lapadula and Christian Cueva scored in both games, catapulting La Blanquirroja to the play-off position for the first time since Matchday 1. Chile looked to be sitting pretty after winning in Paraguay to move into the top four, only for a chastening defeat to Ecuador in Santiago to drop them back down to sixth and out of the qualifying places. To make matters, Arturo Vidal was sent off against La Tri and will miss, at the very least, the meeting with Argentina in January. The Chileans remain very much in the hunt, however. One side who seem to have lost their way entirely are Uruguay, who came away pointless from their two games and have plummeted to seventh after a run of five matches without a win. On the bright side, they are level on points with Chile and only one behind Peru and Colombia. “We have to win,” said coach Oscar Tabarez. “We can make a fresh start next year, and I believe in these players. All we can do is look ahead and keep fighting.”
Bolivia were one of the two sides to down Uruguay, giving them three vital points that keep their qualification hopes alive. Though still a lowly eighth, they are just two points adrift of fourth-placed Colombia, a team they still have to play. The Bolivians’ chances looked to be over after their heavy defeat in Peru, where they never got going. Paraguay recovered from that home loss to Chile to pick up a point in Colombia, their first under new coach Guillermo Barros Schelotto. Not out of contention yet, La Albirroja can take heart from the fixture list: aside from a meeting with Brazil, three of their last four matches are against direct rivals in the battle for qualification. Bottom-placed Venezuela have now lost three games in a row and are virtually eliminated.
4 The number of matches that Ecuador have now gone at home without conceding. The last two qualifying competitions in which they achieved something similar ended with them reaching the World Cup (Korea/Japan 2002 and Brazil 2014). 5 The number of matches that Colombia and Paraguay, who played out a 0-0 draw in Barranquilla on Matchday 14, have both gone without scoring, the longest such run for the pair in the history of CONMEBOL qualifying. 11 Brazil have won their last 11 home games in the qualifiers, an all-time competition record. 12 The number of matches it has taken Ecuador to win a qualifying match in Chile. In the previous 11 meetings between the two in Santiago, La Roja had won nine and drawn two. 24 The number of years Peru had gone without prevailing in a qualifying match in Venezuela, having failed to win on their five previous visits there (a draw and four defeats).