We are finally into the final stretch of CONMEBOL qualifying that began a full two years ago. At this point, we’re equally as close to the start of World Cup 2018 qualifying as we are to the beginning of qualifying for Brazil. As of today we know a few things:
- Argentina has officially qualified for Brazil
- Paraguay has been officially eliminated from qualification
- Bolivia has been officially eliminated from qualification
- Peru has been officially eliminated from qualification
If you’re still standing at this point, you’re in pretty good shape. Venezuela at best can reach the play-off against Jordan, which looks impossible, while Colombia is looking very strong to qualify directly. Here are each team’s chances at this point:
Argentina v. Peru – Buenos Aires, Argentina
A meaningless game in CONMEBOL. The only effect this game may have is on Argentina’s FIFA ranking. They should be looking to secure all 3 points and cement their status as a seeded team in the December draw for Brazil. Argentina should steamroll Peru.
Prediction: Argentina by 4
Ecuador v. Uruguay – Quito, Ecuador
This one is the key match to watch in CONMEBOL. Uruguay has clawed their way back from the bottom of the standings to now be in great shape. Ecuador is headed in the other direction. Since the beginning of June, they’ve only picked up 2 points in 4 matches, including an embarrassing road draw at Bolivia. Uruguay is playing much better right now. That being said, if there’s any time for Ecuador to turn it around and prove they belong in Brazil. This will be a close one, but we think the home side has the edge here. Also of note, is that if this game does not end in a draw, Colombia will qualify for Brazil.
Prediction: Ecuador by 1
Colombia v. Chile – Barranquilla, Colombia
In the grand scheme of things, this game is not all that important. As we indicated above, Colombia can qualify automatically if Ecuador-Uruguay doesn’t end in a draw. Chile appears to be in good shape, and if they are able to get anything out of this match, should qualify without much difficulty. Colombia, however, will most likely want to seal things up on their own terms. Expect them to take care of business at home and put Chile away.
Prediction: Colombia by 2… to Brazil
Venezuela v. Paraguay – San Cristobal, Venezuela
Venezuela is on its last legs here. This is the final match of their qualifying campaign, so they can do nothing other than try to win and hope for help. For Venezuela to advance to the playoff and face Jordan, they must have a number of things happen.
First, they must win this match, and do so by as many goals as possible.
Secondly, they need the Ecuador-Uruguay match to not end in a draw. It doesn’t matter who wins, but they need someone to lose to stay alive. It would be better for their sake for it to be Uruguay as they’ll need to make up goal differential.
Third, if a team loses Ecuador-Uruguay, they need that team to lose on the final matchday October 15.
Fourth, they need to pass the losing team in goal differential. Currently they are 7 behind Uruguay and 10 behind Ecuador. This seems like a virtually impossible task. The first step is this match, and we think Venezuela at least keeps some hope alive.
Prediction: Venezuela by 1
The 4 teams left we predict to look like this:
Uruguay v. Argentina – Montevideo, Uruguay
This one should be interesting. Uruguay will arguably be in a must-win situation while Argentina has nothing to play for. Our predictor is going to be sideswiped by this match. This is one of the benefits of playing the best team last. They probably already got their wins out of the way. I’d fully anticipate Uruguay to win here, despite what our predictor says. Stupid computers. If they can get anything at Ecuador, they could qualify here.
Prediction: Argentina by 2
Paraguay v. Colombia – Asuncion, Paraguay
If Colombia’s previous match didn’t matter, this one should mean even less. We fully expect Colombia to qualify on the 11th which would render this game moot. In the event of a disaster at home, they’ll clean house on Paraguay here. Colombia will be in Brazil.
Prediction: Colombia by 2
Chile v. Ecuador – Santiago de Chile, Chile
If Ecuador does defeat Uruguay on the 11th, at least one team will qualify directly for Brazil through this match. We expect that team to be Chile. With Ecuador playing so poorly, this is the opportunity Chile needs to seize a return trip to the World Cup. Conversely, if Ecuador does defeat Uruguay, then a draw here would be enough to see them through. They could also qualify directly if Uruguay does not defeat Argentina by a number of goals. This game could have a ton of meaning come the 15th. We’d expect the better side to prevail here. That’s the home team.
Prediction: Chile by 1… to Brazil
Peru v. Bolivia – Lima, Peru
This is a matchup between two eliminated teams that has no bearing on qualification. Who knows what squads we’ll see here. We’ll make a prediction anyway, as we do for all matches.
Prediction: Peru by 2
As qualifying ends, our predictor anticipates Chile and Ecuador qualifying directly for Brazil. If Uruguay can get anything in Quito, their chances improve significantly as they’ll surely face a watered down Argentina side. Chile should be OK regardless, but you never know. Either way, prospects do not look good for Venezuela. If I’m Jordan, I’m preparing to face one of Chile, Ecuador or Uruguay, with extra focus on Ecuador and Uruguay.
We’ll have much more content soon with more World Cup Qualifying previews and Asian Cup Qualifying analysis. Follow us on Twitter @We_Global and keep visiting weglobalfootball.com for all of our previews. Thanks for reading!