The first two rounds of the CONMEBOL’s World Cup Qualifications are in the books and Uruguay is leading the pack. While the Bolivians are dead last after the first two games the 2018 World Cup in Russia is already starting to look like a tall tale for them.
So far 10 out of the 90 games in the South American qualifiers have been played and a total of 25 goals were scored in the process. The first five matches were played on Oct. the 8th. In the first round the home countries struggled to get victories. The record for the hosts was 2-0-3 and they finished with a negative one goal differential.
The biggest upset of the first round was Ecuador traveling to the Estadio Monumental Antonio Vespucio Leberti in Buenos Aires. The Ecuadorians shocked the Argentineans by scoring two late goals in the dying moments of the game to win 2-0. La Tricolor secured their historic first victory in Argentina in 19 tires. The two goal scorers were: Frickson Erazon (81st minute) and Felipe Caidedo sealed the victory in the 82nd minute.
Other matches in the first round:
Bolivia 0-2 Uruguay, Estadio Hernando Siles in La Paz
Colombia 2-0 Peru, Estadio Metropolitano Roberto Melendez in Barranquilla
Venezuela 0-1 Paraguay, Estadio Cachamay in Ciudad Guayana
Chile 2-0 Brazil, Estadio Nacional Julio Martínez Prádanos in Santiago.
The home countries in the second round rebounded as they went 3-1-1 and had a positive eight goal differential. Uruguay won their first match on the road against Bolivia 2-0. Their second game was back at home but the foe waiting for them was Colombia. However, La Celeste has enjoyed their home matches against Los Cafeteros throughout the years. Before this match they had won 18 out of 26 times the two nations played in Uruguay.
On Tuesday La Celeste continued their streak and took care of business and defeated Colombia 3-0 at the Estadio Centernario in Montevideo. Uruguayan center back Diego Godin scored his second goal of the qualifications and the first goal of the match in the 34th minute. Then forwards Diego Rolan (51st minute) and Abel Hernandez (87th minute) gave La Celesta their 19th all time victory over Colombia at home.
Other matches in the second round:
Ecuador 2-0 Bolivia, Estadio Olímpico Atahualpa in Quito
Paraguay 0-0 Argentina, Estadio Centenario in Montevideo
Brazil 3-1 Venezuela, Estadio Castelão in Fortaleza
Peru 3-4 Chile, Estadio Nacional in Lima
After the first two rounds this how the standings look:
The qualifications are still at an early stage but another bad result for some countries might put their World Cup lives in jeopardy. Peru, Venezuela and Bolivia must find a way to get result in their two matches in Nov.
Round three Nov. 11th, 2015:
Chile vs. Colombia, at the Estadio Nacional Julio Martínez Prádanos in Santiago, Chile
In South America, a three point lead can easily vanish. So, if they are going to potentially leap frog over Ecuador and Uruguay they are going have to continue winning. Chile will be searching for their 10th overall home victory against Colombia. Currently leading scorers of the CONMEBOL qualifications Eduardo Vargas and Alexis Sánchez (Tied three goals apiece.) will need to continue their hot streak against Colombia in Santiago.
Los Cafeteros start the qualifiers with a victory against Peru, but then were hit with a reality check from Uruguay. They are back on the road and need to bounce back so they can keep up with the top three counties.
The last thing Colombia wants is to be stuck in a battle for fifth place. The good news for them is that there is a good chance superstar midfielder James Rodriguez will be back for this game.
Argentina vs. Brazil, Estadio Antonio Vespucio Liberti in Buenos Aires
La Albiceleste have started the cycle on the wrong foot with just one point in two games. They will need to bounce back against the Brazilians and start their path back up the table. It is not yet clear if Lionel Messi will be back from injury for this game. The Argentinean offense performed poorly in their first two matches. It is clear that La Albiceleste is in need of some Messi magic to defeat the Brazilians in their next game.
However, Brazil was able to end the second round with momentum after losing to Chile in the first. They defeated Venezuela 3-1 at home. Currently at fifth the five time World Cup champions will have to find away to get a result in Buenos Aires. Positive note for the Brazilians is that Neymar suspension is up and will be back for this game.
Ecuador vs. Uruguay, Estadio Olímpico Atahualpa in Quito
It is safe to say that no one predicted that this match in round three was going to be first versus second. However, with both counties pulling out impressive victories both at home and on the road now are in prime position to start separating from the pack.
However, bad news for Uruguay is that Luis Suarez will not be back, which means the national team will have to be creative to find goals. Center back Godin is the leading scorer for La Celeste with two goals and if they walk into Ecuador relying on set pieces there is a good chance they will leave the equator with no points.
Bolivia vs. Venezuela, Estadio Hernando Siles in La Paz
The game before is first versus second and this one is 10th versus 9th. Bolivia cannot leave the match without three points, since their next game will be at Paraguay. If La Verde fail to get the victory at home then they are in real danger of going 0-4 and their hopes of making their first World Cup since 1994 will be just another cruel day dream.
La Vinotinto have yet to make a World Cup and getting a road victory in La Paz will be a good way to start a run. Venezuela can carry their momentum into their next match at home against Ecuador. La Vinotinto’s like Bolivia cannot afford to leave La Paz without a point.
Peru vs. Paraguay, Estadio Nacional in Lima
Los Incas unlike Paraguay have tasted nothing but defeat in their first two games. However, in both matches they have played well and given both Colombia and Chile a run for their money.
Regardless of good efforts Peru needs to get a victory in this match. Their next game will be at Brazil and the chances of winning that game is very low so three points are required against La Albirroja. Peru is attempting to get back to the highest level of international soccer for the first time since the 1982 World Cup in Spain.
La Albirroja are in fourth place with four points and a result might propel them over the top three or just keep pace with them. After two dishearten lost for Los Incas a victory in Lima for Paraguay might be realistic if they score early.
However, until Nov. we can only predict what the final outcome will be.