With the conclusion of the twelfth round of the CONMEBOL World Cup qualifiers Gregory Sica ask viewers who will represent South America in the 2010 World Cup?
Peru, with only seven points from twelve matches, should be focusing all their attention on regrouping for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. Although much was expected of them in their qualifying campaign internal problems affected their overall performance.
But other than Peru, the remaining nine teams in the South American group are still on track for a World Cup place. Bolivia, who thrashed Argentina 6-1 in incredible circumstances, still have an outside chance to qualify, as do Venezuela, Ecuador and Colombia.
However, the most likely teams to qualify for the World Cup are in the following order:
Paraguay (24 points), Brazil (21 points), Chile (20 points) and Argentina (19 points). While Uruguay (17 points) are likely to finish in fifth place, meaning they could enter a two-legged playoff with a team from the CONCACAF region (this team could well be Mexico).
In reality, fifth place could go to either one of the following six teams: Uruguay, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Venezuela and even Argentina.
Uruguay have proved to be one of the most exciting teams of the competition, but although they lead the scoring charts with 21 goals, at times they haven't been able to win matches that they completely dominated. They deserved to beat Chile in Santiago on Wednesday, but were held to a frustrating goalless draw because of their lack of finishing and the horrible performance of the referee, Hector Baldassi, who should have awarded them a clear penalty in the dying moments. La Celeste are in a must-win situation at home to Brazil in their next qualifier.
Next six: Brazil (H), Venezuela (A), Peru (A), Colombia (H), Ecuador (A), Argentina (H)
La Roja may be in third place at the moment, but their poor home form has greatly affected their chances of claiming an automatic World Cup berth. After a brilliant win in Peru, they succumbed to a goalless draw against direct rivals Uruguay. Chile were complete and utterly outplayed, and they tried every trick in the book to waste as much time as possible as they waited for the final whistle. Next up for them is a difficult road trip to group leaders Paraguay.
Next Six: Paraguay (A), Bolivia (H), Venezuela (H), Brazil (A), Colombia (A), Ecuador (H)
Colombia are still in with a chance to qualify for their first World Cup since 1998, but realistically their chances are rather bleak. With fourteen points they find themselves three points behind Uruguay, but they have dropped plenty of home points and their goal difference is one of the worst in the competition. Taking a look at their final six fixtures, it will be too difficult a task for Los Cafeteros to reach the World Cup.
Next Six: Argentina (A), Peru (H), Ecuador (H), Uruguay (A), Chile (H), Paraguay (A).
The Ecuadorians will be ruing their missed opportunities in the last two rounds of the qualifiers. They dominated both Brazil and Paraguay in Quito, but failed to make the most of their goal-scoring opportunities and were held in both matches. This has greatly affected their chances of obtaining direct entry into the World Cup and they will now have to fight it out with Argentina, Colombia, Chile and Uruguay, who they will be facing in the months to come.
Next Six: Peru (A), Argentina (H), Colombia (A), Bolivia (A), Uruguay (H), Chile (A)
Although they seem to lack quality in most departments of their game, Venezuela have demonstrated the necessary fighting spirit to challenge for a World Cup place. They are currently in eighth position, and unless they begin to pick up points away from home they will fail to quality for their first World Cup yet again. At best Venezuela will claim ten points from their next six matches, meaning their World Cup dream seems out of their reach.
Next Six: Bolivia (H), Uruguay (H), Chile (A), Peru (H), Paraguay (H), Brazil (A)
It is rather strange to be talking about Argentina in this category, but after their 6-1 drubbing at Bolivia, their World Cup position could be at risk. Los Albicelestes dropped down to fourth place, and on paper they have perhaps the most difficult run-in to the World Cup. With away matches to Ecuador, Paraguay and Uruguay, as well as the superclasico with Brazil, Argentina could be in an extremely complicated position. Their next match is at home to Colombia, a team who sent them into the playoff for a berth in USA '94 after thumping them 5-0 in Buenos Aires. Diego Maradona and Argentina definitely have reason to be worried.
Next Six: Colombia (H), Ecuador (A), Brazil (H), Paraguay (A), Peru (H), Uruguay (A)
Goal.com Asks: Which four South American nations will automatically qualify for the 2010 World Cup? Who will end up in fifth place and enter a playoff with a CONCACAF team? And finally, is there the possibility that Argentina could miss out on the World Cup?
Gregory Sica, Goal.com