Let’s take a quick look at some of the better World Cup Qualifiers taking place today:
Are there any competitive matches that actually matter?
Oy, there is hardly a decent match to be found in Europe. Though, as I write this, Israel has a 1-0 lead over Latvia, in Riga, continuing their slightly surprising run in Group 2.
Let’s just move on to South America then, shall we? Ecuador really needs a win today over Venezuela if it wants to keep pace with the top 5 in the standings. On paper, the road trip to Chavez-land shouldn’t be that hard.
Brazil hosts struggling Columbia at the Maracanã. Columbia (who just canned their coach) really needs a point as they are three-points out of fifth place (the playoff spot). This match with Brazil begins a run where Columbia has to play all five current COMNEBOL leaders on the road (though not consecutively).
Leaders Paraguay look to extend their lead atop the region as they host last-placed Peru. Paraguay has truly been the story of qualifying so far. What’s interesting is how balanced their attack has been.
Nelson Haedo Valdez (Borussia Dortmund) leads their attack with four goals, but Salvador Cabañas (Club América), Cristian Riveros (Cruz Azul) and Roque Santa Cruz (Blackburn) have added three goals apiece.
One last interesting nugget from South America… Bolivia has two of the three current topscorers in COMNEBOL in Joaquín Botero (Bolívar) and Marcelo Moreno Martins (Shakhtar Donetsk) but sit in eighth place, four points out of a playoff spot and having played an extra match? Why? Oh, that’s right, they’ve allowed a Galaxy-like 2.2 goals-against per game. That’ll do it.
The Asian qualifiers took place this morning with only one real surprise coming from Saitama, where Japan only drew, 1-1, with Uzbekistan. That said, Japan still sits in second (a qualifying position) and should qualify along with Australia over Qatar, Bahrain and the Uzbeks.
Let’s finish in CONCACAF, and go to Edmonton, which is where all American soccer fans should watching to see if Sven’s Mexico struggles against Canada. By the way, the forecast tonight in Alberta is for temperatures around freezing at kickoff and possibly descending into the low 20s later on. That ought to be fun to see.