Arguably the toughest World Cup qualifying region is reaching the business end with the likes of Leo Messi and Luis Suarez still far from reaching Russia
The South American World Cup qualifiers are renowned for being the most competitive around and the road to the 2018 World Cup in Russia has been no exception.
Of the 10 teams competing, the top four will directly qualify for the World Cup, while the fifth-placed side will have to play an intercontinental playoff. Brazil has already booked their ticket to Russia but for seven of the remaining nine countries in the table, all is still possible with just three match-days remaining.
Match day sixteen, which will take place on Tuesday, features five huge clashes.
In Barranquilla, Colombia host Brazil in what will be a key game for the Colombians. Los Cafeteros visited an already eliminated Venezuela five-days-ago but couldn’t find a breakthrough and drew 0-0 with La Vinotinto. The results of their rivals on that same day made it a case of two points dropped rather than one point gained. However, Colombia is still in second with 25 points and have everything in their own hands.
Brazil is the only side better off than Colombia at the moment, leading the table with 36 points. The side has won all of their nine World Cup qualifiers under the management of former Corinthians boss Tite and seem to be one of the main contenders in Russia next summer. For the remainder of the campaign, Tite will try and keep his team focused so don’t be surprised if Brazil will keep winning despite their qualified status.
— Selección Colombia (@FCFSeleccionCol) September 3, 2017
Two teams that need to stay focused are Uruguay and Paraguay. Both countries will meet in round sixteen and are still involved in the seven-way battle for the remaining World Cup spots. Paraguay have gathered momentum after beating Chile in Santiago on Thursday night and will feel they are capable of beating Uruguay.
La Celeste have picked up just one point in their last four qualifiers, conceding nine goals during that streak. Uruguay’s last game was a 0-0 draw against Argentina and Uruguay showed some defensive solidity again. Óscar Tabárez’ side seems to have improved their form slightly but taking points from Paraguay in Asunción will nonetheless be a hard task.
A hard task is exactly what awaits Ecuador who are currently down in 8th with twenty points and desperately need a win to make it to Russia, something that seemed very likely after four rounds. Because back then Los Amarillos led the table after picking up maximum points, including wins against Argentina and Uruguay. Fast forward to September 2017 and Ecuador have won just once in their last six qualifiers.
Tuesday’s opponents Peru, on the other hand, have been in solid form as of late, grabbing seven out of the nine available points in the last three games and have put themselves in the race for a World Cup ticket. If Peru qualifies, the country would make their first World Cup appearance since 1982.
— Selección Argentina 🇦🇷 (@Argentina) September 3, 2017
Chile and Argentina, who are also still in a tough fight for a spot at the 2018 World Cup, face Bolivia and Venezuela, respectively, who are both out of the question when it comes to qualifying for Russia.
Chile will travel to the heights of La Paz where Bolivia have managed to pull off some upsets in their history, while Argentina face Venezuela in Buenos Aires. The form of both Chile and Argentina is not good, but the upcoming opponent presents both teams the opportunity to turn their fortunes around and take an important step towards the approaching World Cup.