By KEVIN KOCZWARA
World Cup qualification in South America has become clustered, but the upcoming round of games should clear things up in a big way.
Teams can either secure their tickets to Brazil 2014 or make the final push for a World Cup berth on Friday when CONMEBOL qualifying resumes. There is a chance for several nations to get some much-needed separation in what has become a six-team race for four remaining places, with Uruguay being one of them.
Uruguay got off to a slow start in qualifying, but have rebounded well and can put themselves in pole position to qualify for next summer’s prestigious tournament when they face Ecuador in a key away match-up. The two countries are fighting for fourth place and the automatic World Cup berth it gives you, so whoever wins would not only be a strong position to qualify, but also avoid the fifth-place playoff.
For Ecuador, seeing the form of Luis Suarez has to be discouraging. The Uruguayan forward has come back from his 10-match suspension in the Premiership and gotten back on the scoresheet already for Liverpool. While Suarez was still playing international games, his form for Liverpool and match-fitness makes him and even more difficult player to slowdown, especially with he and Edison Cavani now playing on the same page with the national team.
Venezuela could catch one of those nations but even a win at home over last-placed Paraguay is unlikely to earn them a place in Brazil. Venezuela not only have to win on Friday to keep their slime hopes alive, but they also need a winner in the Ecuador-Uruguay game (a draw would eliminated Venezuela) and then another lopsided result to go their way during the final round of matches.
For Chile and Colombia, Friday presents an opportunity to become the next South American team to qualify. Radamel Falcao and Colombia need only a draw with Chile to secure their spot, but the Chileans would leapfrog Colombia in the standings and secure their spot with a victory.
Both countries could still qualify directly if Chile wins and the Ecuador and Uruguay match doesn’t end in a draw.
Here is the full list of this weekend’s qualifiers in CONMEBOL:
Colombia vs. Chile
Ecuador vs. Uruguay
Venezuela vs. Paraguay
Argentina vs. Peru
Which teams in South America will claim their World Cup spot on Friday? Who will win in Ecuador? Does Venezuela have a chance of catching either Uruguay or Ecuador?
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