Brazil, Uruguay, Chile, Colombia... South American qualifier preview
The South American qualifiers are back with round nine taking place over the next few days. Here's a quick summary of some of those taking part...
With club football on hold, international sides are taking centre stage and arguably the most competitive region is taking shape in South America. As some of the big boys of world football battle it out we have a quick look at the top four in the current table standings.
La Celeste lead the way with 16 points although lost against one of their main rivals Argentina in a single goal match but collected all three in their 4-0 victory over Paraguay in the last round of fixtures. Óscar Tabárez' side will welcome bottom side Venezuela to their home expecting a comfortable win and then go to Colombia who will have to cope with Luis Suárez and Cavani leading the line. Atlético Madrid's Godín is a doubt however reports suggest he could be available for selection.
The samba boys have to some degree refound their rhythm and sit just a point behind Uruguay after 8 games. Coming off good victories over Ecuador (0-3) and Colombia (2-1) in the last set of games Neymar and co. will be looking to keep their place near the top of the group as they face Bolivia (home) and Venezuela (away). Anything other than six points from this week will be seen as a disappointment.
La Albiceleste share the same points as Brazil and will be expected to qualify from the tough qualifying campaign. Beating rivals Uruguay (1-0) with the headline making return of Messi was a significant scalp although even coming back from two goals down to earn a point against Venezuela in Mérida was seen as dropped points. This time round Edgardo Bauza will set his team up against Perú in Lima and then will host Paraguay. They will be without their Barcelona talisman but have plenty other talent to call upon.
A couple of point further back on 13 lie James Rodriguez' Colombia who will aim to keep the pressure on those above them with three points on their visit to Paraguay but then will face leaders Uruguay at home. Even a draw in that game may be seen as a good return especially as their Real Madrid star will likely be missing - although reports suggest they still have hope in him making some contribution. Los Cafeteros took three of the six points available to them in the last round with a 2-0 win against Venezuela and a 2-1 loss to Brazil.
The rest of the table as it stands after eight matches:
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