Betting round-up: Colombia close in on World Cup qualification

South American World Cup qualifying is nearing its conclusion, with the bookies backing a dangerous Colombia to join Argentina in booking their place at Brazil 2014

Argentina are already safely qualified and now Colombia are set to join them in Brazil next year when the penultimate round of South American World Cup qualifiers take place on Friday.

The top four teams at the end of qualifying will join hosts Brazil as South American's representatives at the 2014 World Cup while the fifth-placed team will be strongly fancied to win another berth - courtesy of a two-legged play-off match against Asia's fifth-placed team Jordan.

Heading into the penultimate round of matches and Argentina are already qualified with 29 points from 14 games, with Colombia second on 26 followed by Chile on 24 and Ecuador and Uruguay on 22.

The only other team with a chance of qualifying are Venezuela but they have just 19 points and need a miracle considering they have just one game left to play while their higher placed rivals all have two.

Argentina at just $1.25 at bet365 should steamroll Peru at $12 at home in the only one of the four matches on Friday night that has no direct bearing on qualification.

Venezuela should keep their slim hopes alive of qualifying for the first time in their history at $1.80 at home to bottom-placed Paraguay at $4.75 but they will be keeping a close eye on the other results with the teams sitting second to fifth on the table going head-to-head on Friday night.

Colombia are home to Chile knowing a win would guarantee their first berth at the World Cup Finals since 1998.

And they are the easing $2.05 favourites at bet365 to win at home, with Chile the $3.60 outsiders - in from $4 - and the draw paying $3.30.

Colombia's magnificent striker in Monaco's Radamel Falcao has scored seven goals so far in qualifying - putting him fourth behind Argentina's Lionel Messi and Uruguay's Luiz Suarez, both on 10, and Argentina's Gonzalo Higuain on nine - and he is always worth a bet at odds of $5.50 at bet365 to score the game's first goal and $2.37 to score at any stage.


Back Argentina, Colombia and Venezuela to win

The draw looks great value at $3.40 at bet365 in the Ecuador-Uruguay match

The other game sees fourth-placed Ecuador host fifth-placed Uruguay, with the winner to virtually cement an automatic qualifying berth while the loser is likely to end up meeting Jordan in the play-offs.

However, a draw would ensure both teams finish in the top five positions and end Venezeula's slim hopes of qualifying for the World Cup for the first time, even if they beat Paraguay as expected.

At home at altitude Ecuador are the $2 favourites, with Uruguay at $3.75, but with the stakes so high for both nations we fancy the draw in this one at odds of $3.40 - with a 1-1 draw the favoured option in correct score betting at odds of $6.50.

However it should also be pointed out that Ecuador are winless in their past six matches in all competitions and in their past nine matches against Uruguay.

That makes the Socceroos' old rivals well worth a bet in the draw no bet market at $2.62 - where punters get their money back if the game ends in a draw.

*Note prices subject to change