The host nation knows that it's going to the World Cup years and years in advance of the event. But rare is the team that is already qualified more than a year out. Oh sure, there are teams who effectively always reach the highest level of international soccer, but what Brazil was able to do against its mates in South America over the course of the last two years of qualifying has been outrageous. The team is 10-3-1 and is the first to qualify for the World Cup out of South America and the second to do so overall. There are three automatic spots left to hand out and one more to the intercontinental playoff, and there's four matches left for teams to make their moves.
CONMEBOL World Cup Qualifying Table
Brazil – 33 Points ( Qualified )
Colombia – 24 Points
Uruguay – 23 Points
Chile – 23 Points
Argentina – 22 Points
Ecuador – 20 Points
Peru – 18 Points
Paraguay – 18 Points
Bolivia – 10 Points ( Eliminated )
Venezuela – 6 Points ( Eliminated )
At the end of the day, there's a really good chance that the teams that are in the qualifying spots as we speak will be the ones who represent South America in Russia in 2018. Ecuador, Peru and Paraguay are all certainly close enough to make moves, but time is running out, and the matches are getting closer and closer as we go on.
Perhaps the most decisive match in this next stage of qualifying coming up on August 31 and September 5 will be the one between Peru and Ecuador. These two teams are amongst the ones that can make a move, and the Peruvians will have a shot to pick up some big points on the eve of that match when they host Bolivia first. Six points from these two matches will probably put Peru on the right side of the cut line with two match days to play in October. If there is a loser to that Ecuador/Peru match, that team will have a really tough time reaching the World Cup.
Argentina is the bubble team at the moment, and nothing is guaranteed of one of the globe's true soccer powers. The Argentines have to play at Uruguay and home to Venezuela, and four points from those two affairs would probably leave them in good enough shape to qualify.
Chile can really make a positive move in this next set of matches, as this is where it can really put its foot on the gas pedal. The No. 4 ranked team in the FIFA World Rankings will play against Paraguay at home and away to Bolivia in this next stint, and anything less than six points will be a brutal disappointment. If Argentina, Uruguay, Colombia and Brazil do what they should be doing against the bottom feeder teams at this point, Peru could be clear by the requisite seven points to ensure a trip to Russia that looked like it might not be guaranteed even as recently as a few months ago.
If Paraguay has anything left in the tank, this is where it has to prove it. The club plays at Chile and home against Uruguay. Both fixtures are probably going to be lost, but to get a win out of one of the two could at least keep the Paraguayans alive, particularly since they get their easiest match – home against Venezuela – in the decisive Match Day 18.
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