Published on 30 Mar 2022 8:17 am (UK Time)
Who will still have a chance to be one of the 32 teams fighting for the World Cup trophy?
Who still has a chance of going to the World Cup in the South American (CONMEBOL) section of World Cup qualifying?
With the top four and automatic qualifiers for this years World Cup in Qatar being decided last Thursday, attention moves to which of the three possible nations will grab the play-off spot and play the winners of UAE vs Australia.
With Brazil (42 points), Argentina (38 points), Ecuador (25 points) and Uruguay (25 points) unable to be caught, which one of Peru, Colombia or Chile will get the lifeline that is the World Cup play-off.
Peru (5th Place- 21 Points)Embed from Getty Images
Will Peru be facing Australia again, but this time for a chance to qualify for the World Cup?
As the team currently in fifth, they are in pole position to compete against the Asian play-off winners. To do this they will have to bounce back from defeat in a key six-pointer to Uruguay on Thursday. Had they won they would have the play-off place confirmed.
They will have to put this behind them and focus on the game against all ready knocked out Paraguay (8th place). Their job is simple, win.
Any win will see them through to the play-offs for a chance at back-to-back finals for the first time since 1982 and only their second World cup since the same year.
A draw may be enough but would need them relying on other results. If Colombia and Chile fail to win then they will finish 5th, but a draw for Colombia would see Peru miss out on the place on goal difference (currently -5 for Peru and 0 for Colombia.) If Chile draw then this will not be enough to surmount the Peruvians.
Peru at home against Paraguay could very much decide the play-off place but if the result goes against the Peruvians, the situation becomes more complex in who takes the key spot for the match against the AFC play-off winners.
Colombia (6th Place- 20 Points)
Will Colombia be celebrating at full time in Venezuela?
Colombia are a point behind Peru and as such will have to rely on a favour from Paraguay and better the result of Peru. They are in a unenviable position in which three points may not be enough.
This is the only opportunity they have to have a chance of increasing their streak of consecutive World Cups from two to three. Most of their hopes will be the attacking talent of Duvan Zapata (30, Atalanta) and the much talked about Luis Diaz (25, Liverpool FC).Embed from Getty Images
What role will Duvan Zapata (L) and Luis Diaz (R) play in the dramatic conclusion to Conembol Qualifying?
However the experience of Goalkeeper David Ospina may prove vital in what promising to be a tough match against Venezuela, despite their opponents being bottom of the group with 10 points.
If Colombia can repeat their home win against Venezuela on the 10th October 2020 they will have at least completed their half of the bargain and will have to hope for a repeat of the reverse fixture of Paraguay and Peru which finished in a 2-2 draw.
These are the two most likely option but there is a dark horse in this race, Chile who have a longshot of making the play-off.
Chile (7th Place – 19 Points)Embed from Getty Images
It will take a lot for these scenes to be replicated in Chile but will the results fall into place?
The ‘dark horse’ in this race that will have to rely on two results and win the hardest game out of the three possible teams.
2015 and 2016 Copa America winners, Chile will have to defeat already qualified Uruguay, at home, to have a chance of qualifying. Anything short of a win will see them fall short of Peru even if both Peru and Colombia lose.
They will have to do this off the back of a crushing 4-0 defeat to Brazil which all but ended their chances of appearing at the World Cup in November.
To add to their worries, they will have to do this without their new talismanic striker, Ben Brereton Diaz (22, Blackburn Rovers)with injury ruling him out. He has three goals in six matches in qualifying.Embed from Getty Images
How crucial will the loss of Ben Brereton Diaz be to Chile in their COMNEBOL qualification?
Chile will have to rely on Peru losing to Paraguay, who are already out of contention, and Colombia failing to win against bottom side Venezuela.
To make matters worse, Chile lost to Uruguay 2-1 in the reverse fixture on 8th October 2020 and failed to beat them (1-1) during last year’s Copa America.
They would have to overturn recent history, form and rely on other results but the joy of football is that it is unpredictable and anything is possible, as seen by Italy’s shock defeat to North Macedonia . See the below post for more information on this shock win.
That being said it would be a great surprise if Chile were to being playing in the play-off for the CONMEBOL 5th place against the AFC play-off winners.
Who do I think will make the CONMEBOL Play-off place?
While the odds are in the favour of Peru, I believe their lack of goals scored might hurt them at the wrong time.
Peru have only scored 17 goals in 17 qualifiers with Christian Gueva their only scorer with more than three goals (five in 16).
They have also conceded 22 goals and it is because of this I believe they will draw 1-1 with Paraguay. In this case, it will be down to Colombia and a small chance for Chile will not be knocked out with this result.
However, I believe Colombia will complete the job with a comfortable 3-0 win against Venezuela, who have conceded 33 goals and have the worst goal difference of all the CONMEBOL teams of -19.
This would leave Colombia with the 5th place spot in CONMEBOL and knock Chile out, this would not matter anyway as I predict Chile will lose 2-1 to Uruguay which will make the other results futile, in terms of Chile.
I believe that Colombia will be celebrating in Venezuela, while there will be tears in Peru and Chile.
Furthermore, I believe Colombia will defeat Australia (who will beat UAE) to join Canada, Portugal and the other 29 teams in the World Cup.