No time to lose for World Cup hopefuls
Stakes high for Peru v Colombia
Argentina, Uruguay and Brazil host key fixtures
South American Preliminaries: Standings | Matches
After the postponement of matchdays 5 and 6 of the South American qualifiers for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™, matchday 7 features five high-stakes games across the continent. FIFA.com previews all the action.
Matchday 7 schedule (all times local)
[[flag-bol-s]] Bolivia - Venezuela [[flag-ven-s]] (17:00)
[[flag-uru-s]] Uruguay - Paraguay [[flag-par-s]] (19:00)
[[flag-arg-s]] Argentina - Chile [[flag-chi-s]] (21:00)
[[flag-per-s]] Peru - Colombia [[flag-col-s]] (23:00)
[[flag-bra-s]] Brazil - Ecuador [[flag-ecu-s]] (21:30)
The big match
Peru - Colombia, Estadio Nacional (Lima)
After taking just one point from a possible 12, Ricardo Gareca's Peru (9th) need to make up lost ground and quickly. And what better way to start than against "a direct rival", as their goalkeeper Pedro Gallese told FIFA.com. The nucleus of the team remains unchanged, led as always by Paolo Guerrero.
Reinaldo Rueda, who started the qualifiers in charge of Chile, is back for his second spell at the helm of his native Colombia (7th). The loss of James Rodriguez is a major blow for Los Cafeteros, who will nonetheless be able to count on big names like David Ospina, Yerry Mina, Juan Cuadrado and Luis Muriel.
The stat: Colombia have gone eight games without losing to Peru in the qualifiers (six wins and two draws). _La Blanquirroja’_s last victory was in 2001 (1-0 away), while their last home win was all of 40 years ago (2-0 in 1981).
The only fixture involving teams currently in the direct qualifying berths takes place in Porto Alegre and sees Brazil, leaders with maximum points, and Ecuador, third with three wins from four, go head to head. With Neymar and Dani Alves set to star, Tite's side will be trying to extend their unbeaten run in the preliminaries to 22 games (16 wins and 5 draws). La Tri have failed to win any of their last four meetings with the Auriverde and have managed just two wins (2001 and 2004) over their opponents in ten attempts, both on home soil.
In Montevideo, Uruguay (5th) and undefeated Paraguay (4th) will do battle to end the day in the qualifying places. Oscar Tabarez will not have Edinson Cavani after his sending off against Brazil but can count on Luis Suarez and Fabian Muslera, who returns from injury. For his part, Paraguay coach Eduardo Berizzo can also welcome back two of his key players in Andres Cubas and Miguel Almiron. In terms of the head-to-head record in the qualifiers, La Celeste are second best, though they have now gone five games without losing to La Albirroja (three wins and two draws). The latter’s last victory dates back to 2007 (1-0), while they have not won in Uruguay since 2001 (1-0).
Another undefeated side Argentina (2nd) welcome Chile (6th) to Santiago del Estero. With Lionel Messi at the helm, Lionel Scaloni's revamped Albiceleste will be hoping for their fifth qualifying win in a row against La Roja, who have just one victory over their neighbours in this competition (1-0 at home in 2008). The fixture will mark the official debut of new Roja coach Martin Lasarte, who will be without top-scorer Arturo Vidal. "We must keep the team centre stage. Chilean football has earned the right to be there and now is not the time to lose it," Lasarte recently told FIFA.com.
After picking up their first three points at home on matchday 4, Venezuela (8th) will be keen to add to their tally in La Paz against a Bolivia (10th) side still in search of their first win of the campaign. Although Jose Peseiro is hampered by injuries to key players such as Salomon Rondon and Yangel Herrera, there is good news in the return of Josef Martinez. His Bolivian counterpart Cesar Farias continues his bid to revitalise the team but will still be calling on a few key veterans led by Marcelo Martins. La Vinotinto have only ever won once in Bolivia – a 1-0 triumph in 2009 – losing seven and drawing one of their other eight games there.
Player to watch
Angel Romero (Paraguay)
The 27-year-old winger has been in scintillating form so far in these qualifiers. While he shares top spot in the scorers’ charts alongside Arturo Vidal and Luis Suarez on four goals, he has a better goals-per-minute average than the other two, with 1 every 55.7 minutes compared to 1 every 62.25 for Suarez and 90 for Vidal.