With the World Cup Qualifiers getting underway later today in my home continent I thought we’d have a feature on the upcoming match ups and some historicals stats and great games from the more recent CONMEBOL Qualifiers.
If you would prefer a video preview (and a predicting hamster amongst other things) then check out my new show with Sergio Lahaye, The Chiqui Boys Episode 1
While I’m flagrantly selling myself, how about my preview for The Elastico on the World Cup Qualifiers and also who was the one Paraguayan to make it into Goal.com’s 10 to Watch in CONEMBOL Qualifiers
NEYMAR WATCH: He plans to chop off his mohawk – probably for the best.
This week’s stories
Chile enter room 101
Chile have never won in Buenos Aires in 101 years, Argentina have only ever lost two World Cup Qualifiers at home and one, arguably, was because Maradona wasn’t playing the other because he was managing. With no Alexis Sanchez for Chile and the albiceleste rocking under new manager Alejandro Sabella the result should be a done deal. Do watch out for Eduardo Vargas though, Sanchez’s replacement on the wing who could be brought on as a super sub. Lionel Messi is set to captain Argentina, will that be enough to bring the Barça out in him?
Uruguay’s whipping boys
Bolivia don’t enjoy Montevideo, the last time they scored a goal there in a World Cup Qualifier was 1993 when they lost 2-1. Since then they’ve lost 1-0 twice and the last two games have ended 5-0 to the Celeste. If Forlan and Suarez get going there could be a similar score on the cards. Bolivia will be drawing inspiration from the class of ’77 the only Bolivian side to ever get a point of Uruguay in Montevideo, it finished 2-2 that day I really can’t see a similar scoreline even though they have improved steadily under Gustavo Quinteros.
Peru’s master meets Paraguay’s apprentice
Sergio Markarian coached Chiqui Arce as a player and now they clash in the dugout for the first time ever, Arce says “Markarian is like a father to me” and expects a tight game of tactical cat and mouse. Arce was convinced that there was a spy in the camp or somebody perched in a mango tree (really) this week who was giving the training line ups away but one thing that regularly put tactics out the window is talent. Oscar Cardozo is going to be key.
Venezuela set to crack into Quito fortress
Ecuador rarely lose in Quito but one of two sides to beat them there in the last World Cup Qualifiers was Venezuela in the opening game. Cesar Farias has had the vinotinto altitude specialists training at the dizzy height of 2,983 metres above sea level in Mucuchíes since September. This crack team, lacking many European-based players, will be hoping to repeat their 1-0 victory back in 2007.
A moment to remember Hernan Crespo
Ahhh what a player, even at Chelsea where he was said to have failed, he scored goals like this and one thing he did everywhere other than London was score goals in abundance. He remains the World Cup Qualifiers top goalscorer with 19 strikes ahead of Chilean duo Marcelo Salas (18) and Ivan Zamorano (17).
Valderrama lives on…in paint
The most capped Colombian of all time, Carlos Valderrama was a wonderful player as well as having a great hairstyle, the two time South American Player of the Year was last seen managing Junior Barranquilla in 2007 – I really don’t know what he has been up to since then. His memory does live on via this website Valderramarama – if anybody knows where the real Valderrama is (not his paint version) then let me know!
What about Colombia?
They’ve got a day off – with Brazil absent from the qualifiers, being the World Cup hosts of course, it means every round of qualifiers a team will get a day off. Colombia can put there feet up on Friday and concentrate on Tuesday’s clash in La Paz with Bolivia. If you are wondering Brazil are playing Costa Rica in a friendly fresh off their win against Argentina in the ‘Clasico de las Americas’.
Eight’s the limit
No team has ever managed more than 8 goals in a game in the CONEMBOL qualifers – Brazil did so against Bolivia in 1977, I can’t imagine we’ll see any thrashings of that nature this year. Nine is the most goals scored in one game, in a 6-3 (Argentina vs Ecuador, Peru vs Venezuela) and a 7-2 rout by Chile over Colombia. Again none of those results are likely to be repeated in what is set to be the most tightly fought qualifers to date.
Stat of the Week
15 – The number of CONMEBOL qualifiers participated in by Paraguay – a record.
Goal of the
I thought we would delve back in history for some classic South American World Cup qualifying goals, it is impossible to choose the best so here are three from recent years that have stood out (all involving Argentina interestingly).
Top Ten of the Week
This week I thought it would be fun to look at the top goalscorers in the World Cup Qualifiers since they started in 1934. I took the table from Wikipedia here – some interesting results!
10. Germany (inc. West Germany) – 213 goals in 74 games
9. Belgium – 216 in 113
8. Sweden – 219 in 107
= 6. Spain – 226 in 99
= 6. England – 226 in 92
5. Serbia (inc. Yugoslavia) – 231 in 108
4. Holland – 241 in 105
3. Costa Rica – 243 in 140
2. Australia – 286 in 105
1. Mexico – 376 in 141
So it is the Mexicans who sit top having thrashed so many sides over the years and regularly score over 2.5 goals per game, Australias time in the OFC has also boosted them up the rankings, amazingly England and Spain have scored the same amount of goals in Europe but the topscorers from UEFA are the Dutch averaging 2.29 goals per game. No place for the South Americans although they used to play very few qualifiers pre-1998 World Cup – the leaders are unsurprisingly Brazil with 199 goals.
By Ralph Hannah