Crunch Time in CONMEBOL
>It is all going down to the wire in South America as the 2010 World Cup qualifiers are reaching their climax. With Brazil and Paraguay having already qualified for the World Cup in South Africa, and Chile having all but secured their position, all eyes turn to the next 5 teams on the list, seperated by just 3 points and fighting for the final 2 direct qualification and one playoff spot.
As things stand now, Chile are at 27 and baring a nightmare in their last two games against Columbia and Ecuador, they are sure to go through. Ecuador, currently in fourth at 23 points, will be looking to get what they can out of their game against Uruguay before travelling to Chile for the final battle.
Argentina, the biggest team that is in threat of missing out on the World Cup, are staring down the battle with Peru and Uruguay to come while Uruguay, Venezuela and Columbia are all looking to make a place for themselves known that the right results in the last two games can see them make the plane to South Africa.
Here are the fixtures scheduled for the 10th and 11th of October:
1. Columbia vs Chile
Columbia are at home against a third-placed Chilean side that has needs just a point of each of their last two games to qualify for the World Cup. While getting nothing from these games might still see them qualify in the last playoff spot, they would want direct qualification just to ease things in their minds. With just Columbia and a win standing in their way, things are looking good for the Chileans.
Columbia are in trouble. Eight in the group and the bottom-most team with a mathematical chance of qualifying, Columbia will have to depend heavily on beating Chile and hoping that results in other games go their way. If they can secure a win here, it will certainly boost their chances of getting to the World Cup considering that their last match is against Paraguay, a team that has already qualified and might look to blood some youngsters in that game.
Columbia Win: 2.05 | Draw: 3.25 | Chile Win: 3.50
2. Ecuador vs Uruguay
Ecuador are hosting Uruguay in another do-or-die fixture where a win will see them strengthen their bid for a direct qualification spot. While a draw might not completely destroy their chances, a loss will push them down to fifth place or lower provided results in other games work in their favour.>
Uruguay may be in sixth spot at the moment but they are surely not out of it. Just 2 points behind their fourth placed opponents, a win might just see them leapfrog into fourth place provided Argentina fail to get any points. A draw might still keep them alive although a loss would surely be a ticket out of the tournament considering that their last game might just be a battle for fourth place against Argentina.
Ecuador Win: 1.80 | Draw: 3.40 | Uruguay Win: 4.30
3. Venezuela vs Paraguay
Venezuela still have it all to do and with good reason. They may be in seventh spot but are just 2 points behind fourth place at the moment. A win against what everyone expects to be a second-string Paraguay side will do wonders for their chances however, they need results to go their way all around them.
Paraguay have already done what they need to do. What remains is for them to decide the teams that they would like to see in the World Cup. If they want the likes of Argentina to stay out, they would do everything in their power to field a second-string team of youngsters and test their potential. In any case, we might just see a young and fresh Paraguay team taking the field with the idea of looking for prospects rather than winning the game.
Venezuela Win: 2.05| Draw: 3.30 | Paraguay Win: 3.45
4. Argentina vs Peru
This is the big one! Argentina are languishing in fifth place and coach Diego Maradona, arguably the best player ever that the game has seen, is looking to make a hash of his first coaching job ever. Despite having an extremely strong lineup, poor string of results have seen the Albicelestes struggle to hold on to their fifth place in the qualifying tables. Facing bottom-of-the-table Peru, who are already out of the World Cup, may be the best thing for them to get their qualification car back on the road. Pablo Aimar has been recalled to the lineup while players who were thought to be out of it, like Juan Veron>, are a regular fixture in their lineup. The team has shifted back to Buenos Aires, hoping to get back to their winning ways against a, clearly poor, Peru side.
Peru are out of it themselves. What they can do is a huge favour to Uruguay, Venezuela and Ecuador by holding Argentina to a draw or even beat them. But it looks highly unlikely and even more so because they will be the travelling team for this game. With nothing to play for, the players might just give their all hoping to catch the eye of some European scouts but besides that, it looks like a walk in the park for Argentina.
Argentina Win: 1.10 | Draw: 9.00 | Peru Win: 16.00
5. Bolivia vs Brazil
>Bolivia are also out of the reckoning for the 2010 World Cup and this fixture is nothing but dead rubber. They will be looking to play for pride against the Brazilians who also have made it to the World Cup by winning the CONMEBOL group. Young players, hungry players and maybe a full-fledged attacking game with nothing to lose is what Bolivia might throw at Brazil on the 11th.
Brazil are there and they are safe. But they are still Brazil and that means that they cannot afford to lose to a lower team. Despite their qualification, there is no doubt that Dunga will play some new faces, hoping to pick up a few gems from the clash. However, that being said, he would also not want to risk injury to any of his top players and therefore, we might just see a second string Brazilian side, which can almost be as good as most first string sides from around the world.
Bolivia Win: 5.00 | Draw: 3.60 | Brazil Win: 1.65>
All eyes will be on the top three fixtures as all teams are in contention for a trip to the World Cup. Argentina are pulling out all stops and have a simple game but everything has always been simple on paper for the team which was supposed to be fighting for top spot. With Ecuador looking to secure their fourth place and Chile finally finishing up the job, the top five spots are still quite unclear.
Uruguay, Venezuela and Columbia are sure to make life hell for all teams above them and chances are that we might just see any of them also making it to South Africa. A mouth-watering set of fixtures with another set lined up for the 14th; until then, fingers crossed for a brilliant 10th and 11th October.
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