Five reasons for green hope

  • Bolivia are the rank outsiders in South American qualifying for Qatar 2022

  • They start out with games against Brazil and Argentina

  • recalls their upsets of those two superpowers

Bolivia will begin South American qualifying for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ as the rank outsiders. They finished in the bottom two in each of the region’s last four preliminary campaigns, while they are its lowest-positioned side on the FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking.

And if they already faced an uphill struggle, their opening two outings will surely leave them needing to climb Chacraraju in football cleats. Indeed it’s Neymar and Brazil in Sao Paulo on Friday, followed by Lionel Messi and Argentina in La Paz on Tuesday.

La Verde have, nevertheless, produced some major World Cup qualifying shocks against A Seleção and La Albiceleste over the years. spotlights five of them.

Bolivia 3-1 Argentina Mexico 1970 qualifying

Argentina were the favourites to see off the challenge of an emerging Peru and seize Group 1’s ticket to the first World Cup outside Europe or South America. Bolivia were there, supposedly, to make up the numbers. In the pool’s first match, however, former Bayern Munich player Ramiro Blacut scored one and set up another as La Verde beat La Albiceleste 3-1. Argentina ultimately finished bottom. Bolivia losing 1-0 in a very tight game in Buenos Aires, and Peru grinding out a point there, ultimately saw Teofilo Cubillas and Co pip Blacut and team-mates to the prize.

Bolivia 2-0 Brazil USA 1994 qualifying

Brazil had never lost a World Cup qualifier. At the 32nd time of asking, however, they finally slipped up… only not to Argentina or Uruguay as seemed the only plausibility. Marco Etcheverry craftily won a penalty but had it brilliantly saved by Taffarel, but ‘The Devil’ rebounded to open the scoring with two minutes remaining before Alvaro Pena sealed a stunning 2-0 victory over Cafu, Rai, Bebeto and Co. It ultimately helped Bolivia reach their first, and only, World Cup and left Brazil needing to beat Uruguay in their final qualifier, which they achieved with the help of reinstated bad boy Romario.

Bolivia 2-1 Argentina France 1998 qualifying

Argentina cruised through the qualifiers, but they stumbled in 1997 in Bolivia. Marco Sandy put the hosts ahead and, after their guests equalised, another defender, one born in Argentina, Fernando Ochoaizpur restored the lead. Daniel Passarella threw on Juan Sebastian Veron and Ariel Ortega, but goalkeeper Carlos Trucco was in inspired form and Bolivia held out for three points.

Bolivia 3-1 Brazil Korea/Japan 2002 qualifying

Brazil desperately required victory to stave off the threat of missing out on the World Cup for the first time, but a Julio Baldivieso brace inspired Bolivia to a come-from-behind 3-1 victory over Cafu, Emerson, Rivaldo, Denilson and Co. It once again left A Seleção needing to win their final preliminary to go through, and helped La Verde finish a respectable seventh from ten in South America.

Bolivia 6-1 Argentina South Africa 2010 qualifying

People could have been forgiven for assuming the scoreline was an April Fool's Day joke, but ‘The Massacre of La Paz’ was truth on the first day of 2009’s fourth month. Javier Zanetti, Javier Mascherano, Carlos Tevez and Lionel Messi suffered what remains Argentina’s joint-heaviest all-time defeat as Alex da Rosa, Joaquin Botero, Marcelo Moreno and Co ran riot to leave Diego Maradona’s side facing an uphill struggle to reach the World Cup.

Lionel Messi reacts during Argentina's 6-1 defeat by Bolivia in South Africa 2010 qualifying.