CONMEBOL Wraps Up 2022 World Cup Qualifiers June Window
The South American 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifying tournament kicked off again on June 3rd, 2021. The third round of ten in the competition saw Brazil retain its top spot with six wins from six matches, Argentina manage to hold on to an unbroken record in second place, and surprise contender for the top qualifying positions, Ecuador stay put in third. The rest of the teams all changed positions in the standings, up or down by at least one place. Good news for some, but for the likes of Paraguay, who slipped two places from an automatic qualifying spot, the change in fortunes will be disappointing.
Following matchdays 7 and 8, the standings are as follows:
|Squad||Points and Goal Difference||Games|
|Brazil||Points and Goal Difference18 / 14||Games6 (6 wins/0 draws/0 losses)|
|Argentina||Points and Goal Difference12 / 4||Games6 (3 wins/3 draws/0 losses)|
|Ecuador||Points and Goal Difference9 / 4||Games6 (3 wins/0 draws/3 losses)|
|Uruguay||Points and Goal Difference8 / 0||Games6 (2 wins/2 draws/2 losses)|
|Columbia||Points and Goal Difference8 / -2||Games6 (2 wins/2 draws/2 losses)|
|Paraguay||Points and Goal Difference7 / -1||Games6 (1 wins/4 draws/1 losses)|
|Chile||Points and Goal Difference6 / 0||Games6 (1 wins/3 draws/2 losses)|
|Bolivia||Points and Goal Difference5 / -5||Games6 (1 wins/2 draws/3 losses)|
|Venezuela||Points and Goal Difference4 / -6||Games6 (1 wins/1 draws/4 losses)|
|Peru||Points and Goal Difference4 / -8||Games6 (1 wins/1 draws/4 losses)|
Across the two matchdays, there were highs and lows for the South American teams from top to the bottom of the table:
Brazil has been at the top of the table since the initial round of the qualifiers in October 2020. At the end of the second round in November 2020, the Brazilian squad had maintained their 100% record against fellow South Americans Bolivia, Peru and Venezuela. The third round of the tournament was no different; the Seleção won both their matches to stay on top and continue their unbeaten run:
On June 5th, the Brazilians took on Ecuador, who ended their second round in third place. Brazil was the stronger team throughout the match, with the most possession and shots at goal. However, the Ecuadorians proved a difficult opponent to break down. Brazil's goals only came in the second half off of Richarlison's boot in the 65th minute and then via Neymar in injury time.
On June 9th, Brazil visited Asunción to play hosts of the game Paraguay. Neymar netted the opener in the 4th minute and assisted Lucas Paqueta's goal in injury time. By rights, the Brazilian squad should have come away with a higher score, but Paraguay managed to block their opponents from increasing their lead any further.
In September 2021, the first stage of the round-robin tournament will be almost complete once Brazil takes on Chile. Only the postponed matchdays 4 and 5* against Columbia and Argentina will be missing from the score sheet. Will any of the three remaining squads be able to break Brazil's perfect record?
At the end of the second round of matches played out in November 2020, Argentina maintained their spot in second place on 10 points. However, the team dropped their perfect start to the competition with a 1-1 draw against Paraguay. Disappointingly for La Albiceleste, the team only managed to amass an additional two points, taking their total to 12, during their third outing of the tournament:
The Argentines were up against sixth-placed Chile on June 4th. The squad were held off (1-1) by a convincing La Roja, despite Messi's early opener in the 24th minute (his 72nd international goal). Chile's top scorer Alexis Sánchez equalised twelve minutes later, and - though Argentina looked to win back their lead - Chilean goalkeeper Claudio Bravo kept the ball from hitting the back of the net on several occasions. The Argentine's, who had not played together since the death of Maradona in November 2020, had reportedly hoped for a more convincing win in tribute to their hero.
On June 9th, the Argentinians went head-to-head with Columbia - who entered the match 7th place. The Argentine's, who went into the lead with two goals inside the first 8 minutes, must have imagined they had the game in the bag. However, two of Columbia's substitutes turned the game around in the second half, scoring twice to equalise.
Up against Venezuela on September 2nd, the Argentinians will undoubtedly be gunning for three points to maintain their position at number two on the table.
Ecuadorian team La Tri started the third round of the South American qualifiers on 9 points, having surprised many with their overall performance in the initial games. The Ecuadorians lost only to Argentina in their first match of the tournament. The second, third and fourth matches were won convincingly, with Columbia trounced 6-1. After two more games during the June window, the squad from Ecuador will be disappointed to end the third round still on 9 points:
On June 5th, Ecuador went up against top team Brazil and, though they lost 2-0, played a good defensive game. However, up against the tables 9th ranked team Peru, the Ecuadorians came undone. Though Ecuador dominated the game, the Peruvians claimed their first win (2-1) of the tournament with two late goals in the second half. Gonzalo Plata fired one home for La Tri in injury time, but that would have been small consolation to the third-placed team.
Next, the Ecuadorians face Paraguay and Uruguay (again); they will need a positive result if they want to hang on to their World Cup qualifying position.
Just behind third-placed Ecuador, the Uruguayan team are fourth in the table on 8 points. Twelve-time World Cup qualifiers, La Celeste, ended the initial rounds of the competition in fifth place with 6 points, having given mixed performances - two wins and two losses (Ecuador and Brazil). Over matchdays 7 and 8, the Uruguayans failed to gain more than 2 points after two goalless draws:
Against Paraguay on June 4th, the Uruguayans failed to score despite several attempts and ended the match, statistically, only marginally the better team. Over what was an eighth-place Venezuelan team, the squad from Uruguay made half as many attempts at goal as the Venezuelans, though neither scored. And again, the team were the better of the two by only a margin.
In September, La Celeste's players will need to up their game against Peru and Ecuador (again) to hold on to their lead.
The Columbian squad are hot on the heels of both Uruguay and Ecuador on 8 points. The Columbians moved up two places, from 7th to 5th, during the June window. The move upwards will be a relief to the team who dropped from third place after the tournament's first round, with losses to Uruguay and Ecuador. Los Cafeteros took both a win and a surprise draw in the June qualifiers:
On June 4th, Columbia beat opponents Peru 3-0 in an exciting game complete with plenty of action at either end of the field and with a host of yellow and red cards handed out - which saw a player from both squads being sent off.
On June 9th, the Columbians faced off against Argentina. The 2-2 result was generally unexpected. With two goals in the bag for Argentina, goals by Luis Nuriel - netted in the 51st minute - and Miguel Borja - four minutes into stoppage time - stunned many on both sides of the fence.
The Columbians are now just outside the automatic qualifying spot currently held by Uruguay. The September window's matches against Bolivia and Chile will be a good opportunity for Los Cafeteros to manoeuvre their way into one of the top spots.
The Paraguayans will no doubt be disappointed with their performance this window. Having ended the second round in fourth place, the tournament results from the last two matchdays have seen the team drop out of the automatic qualifying zone into sixth place.
The match against Uruguay on June 4th was predicted as a win for the Uruguayans. And while the Uruguayans were the better team on the day, Los Guaraníes held their opponents to a goalless draw earning themselves one point.
Up against Brazil on June 9th, the Paraguayan squad took a 1-0 hit early on. However, the team rallied, upping the pace of their attacks on the Brazilian goal and defending against their opponents well. In the end, Brazil scored a late goal to cement their lead.
The Paraguayans ended matchdays 7 and 8 on 7 points. In September, the team will face Ecuador and Venezuela (again). Another win against the Venezuelans would help keep the squad in the running for the World Cup.
Chile started the third round of the tournament in sixth place and, despite two draws, ended it one spot lower in seventh. Their draw against the Argentines will have given the team something to smile about but, against Bolivia, their performance will have been disappointing:
Chile took on the Argentinians on June 4th. The Chileans held their own against La Albiceleste, more often than not taking the game to the Argentines. The team played well defensively, stopping the Argentinian team from scoring on several occasions.
However, the match against the Bolivians on June 9th was disheartening. Statistically the better team, the Chileans made only one of their 29 shots at goal count. The Bolivians defended well, preventing nine attempts at goal and slotting in their equaliser in the 82nd minute.
Chile will have to work hard in September against Brazil and Columbia (again) if they want to make any headway.
La Verde had a good third round and will be delighted with their performances. The Bolivian squad were sitting at the bottom of the table on 1 point at the start of the June window, but one win and a draw later, they advanced to eighth position on 5 points:
Against Venezuela on June 3rd, the Bolivians put in a sterling performance. Though predicted to take the victory, the Venezuelans were in poor form. The Bolivians dominated the field, scoring once in the first half and twice in the second. The Venezuelans managed an equalising goal in the first half, but none of their further attempts hit the spot.
Up against Chile on June 9th, the Bolivians fought hard to keep their opponents in check and managed an equaliser in the game's dying minutes.
With a respectable 3-2 loss against Ecuador, a 2-2 draw against Paraguay, a win against Venezuela, and draw with Chile; the Bolivians are holding their own. Whether they can continue their upward trajectory in the standings against Columbia and Brazil (again) in September remains to be seen.
From eighth place in the standings to ninth, the Venezuelan team had a disappointing third round. The second round saw La Vinotinto hold off South American giants Brazil and beat Chile 2-1. However, the June window saw a loss to Bolivia and a goalless draw to Uruguay:
Despite being the better team on paper, Venezuela suffered a reasonably significant loss to the Bolivians on June 3rd. The Bolivians scored three goals to Venezuelas one.
Then, on June 9th, the match hosts only managed to remain ahead of Peru in the standings on goal difference after a 0-0 draw against Uruguay.
In September, Venezuela will take on Argentina, then Paraguay (again). Then Venezuelans will be hoping for a minor miracle to help them conquer the Argentinians and stop them from descending further down the table.
Peru's fortunes during the third round continued to fall. The Peruvian team dropped one place to tenth during the last two matchdays, despite a win against third-placed Ecuador:
June 4th's match saw the Peruvian team fall three goals behind the Columbians. However, on June 9th, Los Incas certainly ended the June window on a high after a glorious win over Ecuador. The goalless first half of the match was turned on its head when Christian Cueva netted the ball in the 62nd minute, followed by Luis Advincula's goal eight minutes from full time. Though Ecuador scored during injury time, the Peruvians were victorious.
September's matches against Uruguay and Brazil will be challenging, but at least the team will enter into the fourth round on a high.
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