I have returned once again after a LONG period of absence. I am fully aware that a blog needs constant posts to stay relevant but to be honest not a lot has happened since my last writing piece. This time, however, the Conmebol World Cup Qualifiers will have a conflict of interests in the coming week. With only two games remaining only Brazil and Uruguay are certain to have a reserved spot in the prestigious world tournament. This is where it all gets interesting, especially when FIFA’s own interests are at risk.
COLOMBIA AND CHILE
Control their destiny in the upcoming games. Colombia has more favorable fixtures (Paraguay, Peru) in comparison to the other teams, having made a historic and memorable appearance 3 years ago nobody wants them to miss out on Russia next summer. They sit in third place with 26 points, but a defeat against Paraguay can mean trouble if the teams below them manage to win their respective games. Chile thanks in part to a revolutionary change in mentality and playing style implemented by Marcelo Bielsa, they have enjoyed a golden generation of players since 2008. When the qualifiers began everyone saw them as clear favorites to claim their spot early. Sadly a defeat could mean no World cup for Vidal, Eduardo Vargas, Gary Medel, and Sanchez.
ECUADOR AND PERU VS FIFA AND ARGENTINA
In this equation, the only ones that fight for national pride are Peru and Ecuador. The other two are in it for the money. The FIFA organization is counting on their most profitable team to be front line and center in order to cash in sponsorship money. Peru and Ecuador are their rivals in these last two games, losing against either one of them can cause a catastrophic effect worldwide. National pride was long lost with Argentina, as they never fully managed to display a convincing playing style on the field. Peru is perhaps a more direct menace to FIFA…sorry Argentina since they have a better momentum right now; imagine the headlines on Friday if they failed to beat Peru. Although Ecuador can make things even more dramatic if the albicelestes only come out with a tie. This would mean that an Ecuadorian victory could confirm Argentina’s obvious deficiencies. This is why both teams must be careful because we all know that FIFA will do the impossible to see Argentina come out on top. In the financial aspect, a World Cup without Argentina would mean a loss to Adidas, Nike, Nissan and Coca-cola just to name a few. Messi alone brings profits to the most important brands in the world and not having him there would mean a missed opportunity for a brand expansion, something that FIFA fears at the moment. In the end, I hope to see a fair result without the need of corruption, earn your place the right way or you may see a France 2010 situation again.
PERU AND PARAGUAY RETURN?
These two national teams have returned from the dead with unexpected wins. Both Peru and Paraguay have mixed experience with new talent and it has proven successful. The Inca’s however, would be making a dramatic return to international football after more than 34 years. They only need a win against Argentina to make this happen. Paraguay has a similar scenario but they face more complicated rivals (Colombia and Venezuela). They arrive with great hopes after positive results but once again, if the slip they say goodbye.
I would like to conclude this blog post with my lovely Ecuador. Sadly they managed to get themselves in this worst-case scenario. Hosting Argentina in the last game would mean a realistic possibility of qualifying only if we beat Chile on Thursday. It’s hard for me to believe that we held a 10-point lead at some point. The Ecuadorian federation was not brave enough to fix the situation sooner, risking showcasing our best player in recent years and worst of all leaving the dreams of twelve million people behind. Regardless if the players had some of the blame at some point it is now clear that the only problem was our coach.