CONMEBOL World Cup Qualifying Revisited

Ecuador is flying high

 

With 8 more games in the books in South America, the qualifying picture is starting to get a little more clear.  Argentina tops the group with 24 points and is looking strong, but they have two very tough games in June.  Ecuador and Colombia have also created some space between themselves and the teams behind them, plus they each have a game in hand on their closest competitors.

The team that really bit it in qualifying is Uruguay.  With a home game against last place Paraguay and a road game at Chile, they only came away with a single point.  Given that their final 3 games are against the top 3 teams in the standings, they could be in some real trouble.  Let’s take a look at how our predictions stacked up with the actual results.

 

March 22

Argentina vs. Venezuela – Buenos Aires, Argentina

We expected a drubbing and an easy three points for Argentina.  That’s exactly what happened.  2 goals from Higuain and a PK from Messi gave La Albiceleste all they needed.  Venezuela only managed 34% of the possession, and they may have been just as well served saving the travel money.  They knew coming into this game that it was a longshot and perhaps they were just focused on Colombia.  Argentina was more than happy to take 3 points and move one step closer to Brazil

Prediction: Argentina by 4
Result: Argentina by 3

 

Uruguay vs. Paraguay – Montevideo, Uruguay

What a disappointing effort for Uruguay.  We said “this is really one of those games you should win if you’re Uruguay”.  They blew this opportunity and their hopes of qualifying for Brazil took a big hit. After a Suarez tally in the 82nd looked to be the winner they needed, the defense broke down and allowed Paraguay to cash in on the equalizer in the 86th.  The stunned crowd in Montevideo couldn’t believe it, and neither could we.  Paraguay had to get something on their road trip and at least they got this point.

Prediction: Uruguay by 1
Result: Draw

 

Peru vs. Chile – Lima, Peru

With just minutes remaining in Lima, it appeared as this game was headed to the goalless draw we had predicted.  Then Jefferson Farfan struck in the 87th and sent the crowd into an absolute tizzy.  You don’t believe me?  Watch this:

That’s what the beautiful game is all about.  What an unbelievable win for Peru.  We said this would be the game to watch, and it certainly delivered.  Peru is now back in the hunt for a spot in Brazil.

Prediction: Draw
Result: Peru by 1

 

Colombia vs. Bolivia – Barranquilla, Colombia

Despite the game only being 1-0 at halftime, the floodgates opened in the second half as Colombia tallied 4 times en route to an easy victory.  Things could not have gone better in this match as adding +5 to the goal differential could come in handy down the line.  Falcao teased me until the 86th when he proved me right and finally tallied.  These teams are just not on the same level right now.

Prediction: Colombia by 3
Result: Colombia by 5

 

March 26

Bolivia vs. Argentina – La Paz, Bolivia

This was quite the surprise.  Bolivia clearly had a short memory as this looked like a completely different team than the one which was thrashed by Colombia just 4 days prior.  Bolivia got the first goal they were looking for, but the Argentinians fought back.  Bolivia certainly had the better of play but could not fight back and get the winner they desperately needed.  With Argentina far ahead of the pack, securing a point will serve them well.  Bolivia, meanwhile, is running out of time.

Prediction: Argentina by 1
Result: Draw

 

Ecuador vs. Paraguay – Quito, Ecuador

Perhaps unexpected, Paraguay came out strong and tallied first.  It took Ecuador until the 38th minute, but they finally equalized.  Following a certainly stern halftime speech, Ecuador turned on the afterburners and added 3 more to their total, securing a big win.  Ecaudor has moved to 2nd place in the standings and still has played fewer games than all but 2 teams.  They are in superb position for Brazil.  Meanwhile, Paraguay is in some serious trouble.

Prediction: Ecuador by 3
Result: Ecuador by 3

 

Chile vs. Uruguay – Santiago, Chile

Chile got the 3 points they needed at home after another uninspiring effort from the Uruguayans.  Managing only 2 shots on goal isn’t going to get it done.  Temporarily Uruguay has fallen out of the play-off spot in CONMEBOL.  Chile now gets a pretty good schedule and must feel like they’ve turned the corner after surrendering a late winner in Peru.  Uruguay meanwhile has a lot of work to do to get back to the World Cup.

Prediction: Chile by 1
Result: Chile by 2

 

Venezuela vs. Colombia – Puerto Ordaz, Venezuela

Well here is your surprise result of the qualifying campaign.  Colombia amassed an unheard of time of possession of 72%, yet just could not break through.  We thought that the Predictor’s projection was optimistic, but never anticipated a result this far off.  While the result is not crushing for Colombia, it was massive for Venezuela.  They don’t face Argentina, Colombia, or Ecuador again, so they must be feeling ecstatic after a huge home victory.  Despite being handled pretty easily by Argentina, all was forgotten for the Venezuelans with this result.

Prediction: Colombia by 3
Result: Venezuela by 1

 

So, how did we do?  While we only predicted 4 out of 8 results correctly, we were only 1 goal or fewer off on 6 of 8 games.  We were 2 goals light on the Colombia victory, and Venezuela came through with an absolute stunner.  2 tallies in the 86th minute and later dropped the predictor from 6 of 8 to 4 of 8.  All in all, we had a good feel for 7 of 8 games, so we can’t be too disappointed.  The late winner from Peru is just exhilarating to watch.  It makes you proud to be a fan.  It also has given me an additional reason to move to Peru.

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CONMEBOL Correspondent,
Cro

 

 

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