Argentina joins Brazil in the finals… and Uruguay faces the risk of missing out on the World Cup
Bolivia’s victory and Chile’s loss to Uruguay ignite the heat in the final rounds of the South American qualifiers
Brazil had booked the first tickets for the South American qualifiers last round, after its victory over Colombia 1-0, Thursday. In this round, the results were in favor of Argentina to participate in the major global event for the thirteenth consecutive time, after Chile lost to Ecuador 0-2 and Uruguay to Bolivia by three.
While the first four teams from the unified group qualify and the fifth plays a play-off, the Argentine team raised its score to 29 points from 13 games, 12 points ahead of Colombia and Peru, who played more matches and are facing each other in the next round, which means that they are guaranteed to occupy one of the top four places. The Argentine national team continued its positive path in 2021, after winning the “Copa America” title at the expense of Brazil in Rio de Janeiro. This is the thirteenth consecutive time and the 18th in its history that Argentina has participated in the World Cup, and it was crowned twice in 1978 and 1986, knowing that it failed in the qualifiers only once in 1970.
Argentina coach Lionel Scaloni, who equaled Alejandro Sabella’s record for leading the team to the second longest streak unbeaten (13 consecutive matches), celebrated what he described as a “wonderful year” that witnessed the team’s crowning of the “Copa America” title, as well as qualifying for the 2022 World Cup, and said: “It was A great year. Winning the Cuban title and qualifying for the World Cup unbeaten. It was a dream. We got four points against very strong opponents. Of course we all love to win, but these games help the team to grow. There is no doubt that we are witnessing a positive balance.” “Qualifying at this time through a really difficult qualifier is something we should be proud of,” he added.
The match did not live up to expectations between the two biggest powers in South America, as Brazil had secured qualification while Argentina marched steadily towards the finals, the only two teams without any loss so far.
Argentina coach Lionel Scaloni pushed Messi, the best player in the world six times, into the starting line-up after returning from injury, and he and his colleagues tried to threaten the Brazilian goal from long distances. And goalkeeper Alisson gave the Brazilian guests confidence in front of Lautaro Martinez’s shots in the 24th minute and Rodrigo de Paul (40). As for Messi, who was monitored by his fellow Frenchman in Paris Saint-Germain, Marquinhos, his danger was absent until the last minute when he fired a long shot that was thwarted by the Liverpool goalkeeper. Messi said after the match and before he knew his country qualified: “I am in good shape, otherwise I would not have participated. I have been away for a long time and it is not easy to play a match with this rhythm and these requirements.” “I’m fine and I know I’ll gradually get my rhythm back,” he added. I hope to finish this year well.”
On the other hand, Brazil, which is in the lead, 6 points behind Argentina, Neymar missed a muscle injury, so coach Tite pushed young Vinicius Junior and preferred Matthews Konya over Gabriel Jesus.
The match witnessed a roughness similar to what happened half an hour later when Nicolas Otamendi elbowed the Brazilian Rafinha, who bled from his lip without the referee issuing any warning to the Argentine defender.
Brazil seemed smoother in the midst of play with Lucas Paqueta, Fred and Fabinho, and the Argentine model blocked Fred’s long shot in the 60th minute, while Vinicius Junior sometimes manipulated the Argentine defense, but without a positive on goal. “We played well in every game this year, and we qualified for the World Cup,” Farid said. The most important thing is to come back from Argentina with a clean sheet.”
Brazil failed to avenge Argentina, which dropped it at home at the Maracana stadium last July in the Copa America final. They met again last September in Brazil, but the match was interrupted five minutes after its start, because representatives from the Brazilian health authorities stormed the Corinthians stadium, claiming that the guests had violated the protocols of the “Corona” virus. After the final whistle, Argentina did not celebrate qualification, as it waited for the rest of the competing teams to stumble for fourth place to mathematically guarantee the Qatari trip at the end of next year.
After Chile lost 0-2 at home to Ecuador, Argentina mathematically secured solutions among the top four. Ecuador advanced early with a goal by Pervis Estupinan in the ninth minute, then veteran Chilean star Arturo Vidal was sent off in the 14th minute, paving the way to victory for the visitors, who added the second in stoppage time through Moses Caicedo. Ecuador (23 points) boosted its chances after inflicting Chile (16 points) a first loss after 3 victories. Peru was among the most prominent beneficiaries in this stage, as it rose to fifth place with 17 points after beating its humble host Venezuela 2-1. He scored for the winner Gianluca Lapadula in the 18th minute and Christian Cueva (65), and for the loser Darwin Machis in the 52nd minute. The latter missed a penalty kick in the 68th minute.
Uruguay, champion in 1930 and 1950, continued its frightening decline, as it suffered a fourth loss in a row against its host, Bolivia, 0-3, to stop its score at 16 points. And the team that includes Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani is at risk of missing out on the 2022 World Cup, and Uruguay’s suffering is nothing new, as it appeared in the play-off four times in the last five qualifiers, and reached the World Cup three times during that period and failed to appear in the 2006 World Cup after losing to Australia.
Uruguay returns to the qualifiers on the 27th, where it plays away from home against Paraguay, then hosts Venezuela on the first of February (February), and in March it hosts Peru and then concludes its campaign in Chile.
The confrontation between the “drawing champions” Colombia and its guest Paraguay ended in a goalless draw.
Fourth-placed Colombia (17 points) have tied eight times in 14 matches, while Paraguay, runner-up to the bottom (13), have tied seven times so far.
It is true that Colombia currently occupies the fourth place that qualifies directly to the World Cup, but it has won only 3 times in 14 matches. The conflict seems strong, especially on the fourth card, as the difference is only four points before four rounds of the end, between Colombia (fourth) and Paraguay (ninth).
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