Qualifying for the World Cup in South America is about as tough as it gets. Not only does your squad have to be good for the short run, but it's going to have to play competitive matches for over two years to determine if it's going to ultimately get the chance to play in the World Cup. This year, there are four automatic qualifying spots and one more that will move on to the Intercontinental playoff to face off with the Oceania winner, a home-and-home fixture set that the CONMEBOL side will be heavily favored to advance from.
World Cup Qualifying Table – CONMEBOL
Brazil – 27 Points
Uruguay – 23 Points
Ecuador – 20 Points
Chile – 20 Points
Argentina – 19 Points
Colombia – 18 Points
Paraguay – 15 Points
Peru – 14 Points
Bolivia – 7 Points
Venezuela – 5 Points
At this point, there are 12 matches down and just six to go in this grand round-robin format. There's no such thing as a team that is safe, though there definitely is such a thing as a team that has no chance going forward. Venezuela and Bolivia aren't quite mathematically eliminated, but at this point, there's no way they're reasonably coming back from this, knowing that Argentina is sitting in the cutoff spot right now with 19 points.
The most alarming part of South American World Cup qualifying is that there is pretty darn well going to be at least one really good team not going to Russia. Right now, that team would be Colombia, the No. 7 ranked team in the FIFA World Rankings. The big problem the Colombians are running into is the fact that they just haven't held serve at home the way you'd figure. They were only good enough for a 2-2 draw against Uruguay and a scoreless draw against Chile, and perhaps the most damning result was a 1-0 loss at home to Argentina back at the very beginning of qualifying in November 2015.
Brazil is in the driver's seat right now for a spot in the World Cup, which isn't all that surprising. The Brazilians aren't quite as dominant as they used to be, and they have some holes in their roster, but they've nailed down some big results, including a 3-0 win at Ecuador and away triumphs against both Peru and Venezuela. The 27 points probably isn't quite enough to guarantee qualification at this point, and it should be noted that the team still has a really tough road ahead, including matches at Uruguay and home to Paraguay in the next set of fixtures in a couple weeks.
Uruguay is looking good right now as well with 23 points, though the fact that only five points separate it from Colombia on the wrong side of the cut line has to be a bit nervy, especially with a match coming in Brazil. That said, the Uruguayans still have matches left with Venezuela, Peru and Paraguay away and Bolivia at home, so much of the heavy lifting has already been done. We'd be surprised if this team wasn't in Russia.
The real challenges will come for Ecuador and Chile, the teams sitting in third and fourth right now on 20 points apiece. There's not much room for error with Argentina sitting on 19 points and Colombia on 18, and the road ahead is going to be really tough for both, especially with Chile still having to play road matches at Argentina and Brazil down the line.
BetCris offers play-by-play betting odds for live sporting events every day! The user-friendly wagering interface on your smartphone provides an easy way to place bets on the go. Mobile betting lines are updated by the minute, so click here to start gambling on thrilling live action at BetCris!
Check out our sports videos to get the latest news and game analysis, don't forget to like and subscribe.