South America qualifiers for Qatar 2022 have put an end to 2021 with two nations that have already secured their ticket: Brazil and Argentina. There are four fixtures left and the battle for the three available spots (two direct ones and one of repechage) will be tight until the last minute. What are the real chances for each national team? Let’s find out below.
The last win by the ‘Tricolor’ was their first one ever on the road against Chile (including friendly games). This victory supported Ecuador in the third position and confirmed their optimal performing away in these qualifiers (only their defeat to Venezuela can be considered as a poor performance).
A clumsy penalty by Pervis Estupiñán in Argentina broke the even towards the home team and a shocking referee in Uruguay harmed the squad. Brasil was the only opponent that proved real superiority at home.
This productivity makes us think that the ‘Tri’ is more than capable of grabbing at least two points out of the 12 left. This way, 25 points would make Ecuador to secure the repechage even if the most optimistic estimations take place for the rest of nations (Colombia, Perú, Chile and Uruguay).
The +10 scoring difference is an important advantage and will more than likely earn a direct ticket if they get three or more points. The games in Lima and Asunción are key ones; and the height of Quito will benefit them against already qualified rivals. Everything is in place for the squad of Gustavo Alfaro.
The Colombian National Team has the most accesible calendar in these qualifiers, but the results are not being positive. They have ended scoreless in the last five games and they have only won one out of their last nine matches.
Reinaldo Rueda has not managed to build an environment that can take the most out of his players’ potential. In fact, it is surprising that names such as Duván Zapata perform way lower than at their clubs.
The Colombians acre criticizing the management by the coach on the field and in the players’ selection both in the starting line-ups and the call-ups. Seeing the situation, we can´t rule out that they might drop more points along the way (obviating the duel against an unbeaten Argentina).
They must win against Perú to secure their qualifying, in case of earning six points versus Bolivia and Venezuela. I believe that their are the country with the most chances to make it through after Ecuador due to their individual talent. They can come back easily.
The ‘Bicolor’ rejoined the race to head to the World Cup after their wins against Bolivia and Venezuela. Now they have three real finals ahead of them against direct rivals. However, it is on their side the fact that their best players have really shown a high level: Christian Cueva, Sergio Peña or Pedro Gallese are some of them.
Their chances rely on winning at least a game. Six points would put them with 23, which would be a limit line: Ecuador already have them and Colombia can get them against Bolivia and Venezuela. This is without counting on Uruguay.
Therefore, saying that they get the win versus Paraguay and Ecuador, the decisive game would be against Uruguay. It is a complicated calendar and everything can happen in these qualifiers, but I believe that the ‘Bicolor’ will only opt for the repechage and will depend on the ‘Celeste’.
‘El Maestro Tabárez’ has stayed as Uruguay’s head coach despite their low performing. In fact, it seems clear that he will keep the job until the end, no matter what happens. A last service to the homeland due to his trajectory.
The struggle on scoring has been their biggest issue, but there are also those who criticize his call-ups. However, Uruguay are only a point away from the 4th spot and they can still access the repechage (if Ecuador and Colombia do not fail).
A priori, the ‘Celeste’ have the capacity to add against every of their rivals. Their biggest enemy are themselves and their outcomes will rely on the game they display. However, being left out of the World Cup will be a reality if they maintain their level until now.
Having seen all the guess from every national team and taking into account that no one will win all their games (I believe that is impossible in these kind of qualifiers), I think that Ecuador and Colombia will be the ones to occupy the last two available direct spots. On the other hand, Perú and Uruguay will battle for the repechage.
Chile are on a very delicate situation: they have to take on an unbeaten Argentina; visit La Paz, where Bolivia have only fallen to the ‘Albiceleste’ and the ‘Tri’; play in Brazil, who are also unbeaten; and host Uruguay in their last game.
La Roja have not competed well in this edition and they now need a miracle to go to the World Cup. Bolivia are alive to dream for the repechage and still have a chance, but their performing on the road are a huge obstacle. Paraguay, with 13 points, are almost knocked out.
Translated by Guillermo Bermejo.
Main image: Edit by José Manuel Calviño.
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