02 Jun Brazil, Argentina should put Copa America row apart as 2022 World Cup qualifying resumes
Amid all of the fuss in regards to the upcoming Copa America and the place will probably be hosted, it’s simple to neglect that there are two rounds of 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifiers to be performed in South America. These, although, are the extra vital video games.
Initially these dates have been put aside for pre-Copa friendlies. However due to the pandemic, South America is means behind. Solely 4 rounds of fixtures have been performed. One other 14 should be squeezed in earlier than the top of March subsequent yr. And so there may be one spherical this Thursday and Friday, and one other subsequent Tuesday, earlier than the teams head to Brazil for the Copa.
– 2022 World Cup: How qualifying works all over the world
– Why Copa America has moved to Brazil: All it is advisable to know
This places South American worldwide football in a curious place. There have been no aggressive matches since final November. Bolivia, Chile and Ecuador managed to play friendlies in March. Everybody else is getting collectively for the primary time in seven months. And now the warm-up matches are extra vital than the event that follows. The Copa America is clearly secondary. Everybody’s precedence is to make it to Qatar on the finish of subsequent yr.
South American confederation CONMEBOL has 4 computerized slots within the 2022 World Cup, which begins on Nov. 21 subsequent yr, with the team ending fifth having to undergo a playoff. Thus far, three teams have pulled away from the pack on the high of the standings, and two of them face one another in the one match being performed on Friday when Brazil host Ecuador in Porto Alegre.
With 4 wins out of 4, Brazil discovered a mix final yr that was higher than something that they had executed for the reason that finish of the earlier set of World Cup qualifiers. The 2018 quarterfinal defeat to Belgium in Russia left coach Tite confused. His facet had been too open down the left flank. He responded with a extra cautious method from his full-backs, nevertheless it by no means seemed fully convincing regardless that Brazil received the 2019 Copa on residence soil. Since then he has tried one thing new, releasing attacking left-back Renan Lodi to push ahead with midfielder Douglas Luiz protecting the house behind him.
However Douglas Luiz is suspended for this recreation — which might provide a glimmer of hope to Ecuador, who’re robust on the counter-attack. Below Argentine coach Gustavo Alfaro, Ecuador opened up with a really defensive show and a 1-Zero defeat away to Argentina, adopted by three thrilling victories. They are going to be very cautious of Brazil’s attacking menace, and might be anticipated to be cautious as soon as extra. Realistically, they may really feel that something they choose up from this match will likely be a bonus, and their purpose will likely be to maneuver on with confidence intact. Then once more, Brazil have by no means misplaced a World Cup qualifier at residence, a report that has to fall at some point, and after so lengthy out of motion they might be extra weak. However a Brazil defeat can be an excellent larger shock than the shock information final Monday that the nation can be internet hosting the Copa America.
The opposite team doing nicely are Argentina, who underneath Lionel Scaloni have made nice strides for the reason that 2019 Copa, after they misplaced to Brazil within the semifinals. Wanting extra like a team than at any time since they reached the ultimate of the Centenary Copa in america 5 years in the past, they’ve put collectively three wins and a draw, and are agency favourites to chalk up one other victory at residence to Chile on Thursday night time.
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Not all of their issues have disappeared, although. There’s nonetheless a dearth of expertise in central defence. However will Chile be capable to take a look at the weak point? New coach Martin Lasarte is handicapped by the lack of midfield powerhouse Arturo Vidal, who has been hospitalised after testing constructive for COVID-19. And the large downside is the one which earlier coach Reinaldo Rueda wrestled with for 2 years earlier than selecting to resign: Chile haven’t developed gamers with the standard of the technology that received back-to-back Copas in 2015-16, and are nonetheless dependent on the previous guard.
Rueda jumped ship to take cost of his native Colombia. He goes straight in on the deep finish with a crunch match first up away to Peru, the sport that closes Thursday’s motion. Colombia have 4 factors, and suffered a disastrous two rounds of heavy defeats in November. Peru have just one level, and desperately want a win to remain in contact.
One other high-pressure conflict comes earlier that very same day, between Uruguay and Paraguay. Either side are in midtable with six factors. The winners will be part of the main pack, whereas the losers will slip again amongst the trailers. Will probably be attention-grabbing to see Uruguay’s method. Edinson Cavani is suspended, and quite a lot of different strikers are out injured. This might be an opportunity, then, for coach Oscar Washington Tabarez to come back off his normal 4-4-2 system. Uruguay might discipline extra of their proficient younger central midfielders, and have the choice to make use of wingers both facet of Luis Suarez. It ought to have been a chance for playmaker Giorgian De Arrascaeta for use in his favorite place, by way of the center. However he, too, has gone down with COVID-19.
The opposite recreation, the primary of the spherical, is between Bolivia and Venezuela. Backside-of-the-table Bolivia have only one level, and all their hopes are pinned on profitable this recreation. Venezuela, the one South American facet by no means to have made it to a World Cup, are upset to have simply three factors so far. And they’ll discover issues very tough within the prevailing situations.
A number of the European coaches to have labored in South America just lately have been flummoxed by the challenges offered by altitude, the place the ball travels extra shortly by way of the rarefied air and unaccustomed gamers are gasping for breath and unable to play their regular recreation. Final November the vastly skilled Carlos Queiroz misplaced his job with Colombia after an embarrassing 6-1 defeat in Ecuador’s high-altitude capital of Quito. Queiroz is Portuguese, like Venezuela’s boss Jose Peseiro, who now faces the problem of the extra excessive altitude of La Paz. The sport will likely be a take a look at of how nicely he has ready for the kind of encounter that makes World Cup qualification in South America so aggressive and so absorbing.