The plethora of options in the South American continent gives them access to five spots of qualification. Automatically, the first four qualify. Consequently, the team sitting fifth plays a qualification playoff. The World Cup is round the corner, and the qualification spots are fairly booked. The winners of the group are decided. Two teams already eliminated. The remaining teams are separated by a gap of seven points. Among them, we have a dark horse. We have a fallen knight. Two games are left. Four spots still up for grabs. And above all, it’s South American football. It’s full of enigma and absurdity. Let’s analyze the contenders and weigh out their options for qualification.

  1. Brazil- The Brazilians have a good charisma about their game. They have gone through a massive overhaul. After the decimation in their own backyard, they went back to the board realizing they needed few tweaks. Brazil has changed their manager. Dunga left and in comes Tite. Demanding decisions were made under the regime of Tite. Thiago Silva came back in the squad. Experienced full backs were back. A versatile, agile and complete front line is formed. The lynchpin being two hard tackling defensive midfielders. Eventually, finishing it is the enjoyable and friendly nature of the Brazilian dressing room. Brazil has come back strong. Nine wins on the run gave Tite a perfect start to his regime. So, this gives him time to experiment with tactics and the team. Brazil has already qualified. Therefore, the last two games can see a shuffling of the squad. Tite lost the run of his perfect record to Colombia. The Colombians were successful in salvaging a point. The second half saw Brazil take lead through Willian. Falcao canceled out the goal by popping in a header. Brazil can evaluate all their options before they take center Brazil currently sits first in the FIFA Rankings. Apparently, they are strong favorites to win the tournament.                                                                                                                                                                                                            Tite in conversation with the Brazilian Squad    
  2. Colombia- The Colombians have performed extraordinarily. It is even above their expectations, to be honest. They belong to a footballing continent, which Brazil and Argentina dominate. And not to forget Chile, defending champions of the Copa Americas. Yet, Colombia has somehow managed to cement themselves at their position. Spearheaded by Falcao, they salvaged a point and now see a clear sprint to the finish. Hopefully, everything goes according to plan, and they secure their third spot. Colombia plays Paraguay next at home. Lastly, they play Peru in an away match. The match against Paraguay should see them qualify with ease. The manager, Pekerman was ecstatic and content. He was satisfied with the result against Brazil, considering they faced a strong side. Colombia has slowly and steadily progressed into the World Cup 2018 Russia. They have the fire within them and can resurrect their form of the 2014 World Cup. They will be a team to watch out for.                                                                                 Falco erupts in joy as he scores for Colombia
  3. Uruguay- The fallen gods of the footballing world. Uruguay has once been on the pinnacle of football. They have won the World Cup twice. They upset Argentina on the inaugural edition of World Cup and went on to upset Brazil in their backyard in 1950 for their second title. Seemingly, everything went haywire. Nevertheless, Uruguay has done well recently. They have assembled a team which is capable of competing with other star studded teams. They are led by Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani who carried the team together. And now they helped Uruguay progress. Luis Suarez scored in the win over Paraguay. Suarez had a cracker of a shot to which struck the woodwork only to ricochet later into the goal. The victory sees Uruguay sit in the second position amassing 27 points from 16 games. A victory against Venezuela should see them qualify. However, Venezuela will leave no stone unturned to upset Uruguay.                                                                                                                                                                                                                ” La Celeste”
  4. Argentina- The Argentinian team is in distress. They have gone off track. They are a sinking ship and they need to work out something or else they bid farewell to World Cup 2018. Argentina has had a change of three managers across the whole qualification process. The current manager was expected to change the fortunes. Argentina has hardly seen any change of luck. Sampaoli decided to bring in fresh talent. With Dybala and Icardi in the ranks, Sampaoli fielded them. Though, the time was not right. Argentina was in crisis. This was not a time to experiment with tactics. Argentina was in dire need of its veterans. Sampaoli rested Higuain. Aguero was not started in the match. Had Aguero and Higuain started with Messi, it would have been a different story. Consequently, Icardi started and missed four chances in the first half itself. Overall, Argentina drew with Venezuela. Courtesy of an own goal by Venezuela. Now they have two games to change their fortune. Argentina is to play Peru in Buenos Aires. Peru is above Argentina and can be awkward customers to the Argentinians. The last game takes them to Ecuador. The game against Ecuador will be a very tough fixture as it is hosted in one of the highest altitude stadiums, which will have thin air. Comparatively opposite to Argentinian conditions. Argentina stands a chance at their home against Peru. Still, Argentina has degraded in their style of football. Argentina is one of the teams which should have been challenging for the top spot. Yet, they are loitering around the qualification spot. It is something which is not expected by a team of such stature. If they sit in the fifth spot, they will face New Zealand. They will be overwhelming opponents for them. But they are a team in transition, which needs to find the right gears before the World Cup.                                                                                                                                          Will he do a Beckham for Argentina??
  5. Chile- “What goes up, must come down.” This is the story of Chile at the moment. Chile has had a roller coaster of a ride. Although, it looks like the ride is over. Chile was at their prime when they won the Copa America in 2015 and 2016. Though, age is a factor clearly affecting them. Chile has an aged squad. The prominent and key players of Chile are Vidal, Sanchez, and Bravo. Vidal is now 30. Bravo is aged 34. And Sanchez is 28. They are aging and by the time World cup comes, age will get the better of them. Chile needs to find the alternatives. Chile has lost two games on the run. They lost 3-0 against Paraguay. Bolivia dented Chile’s hope defeating them 1-0. Additionally, Arturo Vidal has announced his retirement. Arturo Vidal has clearly stated that he will retire from international football post World Cup. Conversely, if they do not qualify, the last two games shall be his last games as a Chile international. Moreover, Alexis Sanchez is in the bad books. “Fat” is what Juan Antonio Pizzi, Chile’s national coach called him. His stubbornness and stand against Arsenal are maybe taking a toll on his international career. Quoting Pizzi “Without his spark, he never left that Paraguayan defense He never made a diagonal run, it was something else. It was not Alexis.” Such problems clearly show Chile is having a bad state of affairs. A prerequisite condition for the World Cup. However, this is a brisk chance. The 5th position sees a contention between Argentina and Chile. Only time knows what it has in store for the teams and for the Footballing Fraternity.

IMAGE COURTSEY PROVIDED CHRONOLOGICALLY AS FOLLOWS:

  1. Image via Google Images/ Ferret Buzz. (https://goo.gl/SqebRG)
  2. Image via Google Images/ The Sun. (https://goo.gl/Qqzows)
  3. Image via Google Images/ La Celeste Blog. (https://goo.gl/uZTodL)
  4. Image via Google Images/ DNA India. (https://goo.gl/UpQmMb)
  5. Feature Image via Google Image/ Huff Post. (https://goo.gl/KoqRwo)