Paraguay have qualified. Chile can choke. Ecuador too. Argentina are at home to Peru next. Uruguay have superior goal difference. Venezuela are lurking. Colombia cannot be ruled out just yet.
There are so many permutations, yet it is difficult to discuss without getting drawn into the Argentine drama.
TEN POT OBSERVATIONS.
1. FIFA got the seedings right. Pot 1 seeds earned their ranking. France did not. France’s final appearance was four years ago.
2. Chile, Paraguay and Uruguay have come out of the pot alignment better than most. Each of the smaller South American nations will avoid the big five African qualifiers in the 1st Round.
3. Argentina and Brazil cannot avoid the African qualifiers from Pot 3. The seeds for two potential Groups of Death have now been sown. Has FIFA put Brazil at risk for an early bath?
4. The most frightening Group of Death would be: Brazil, Mexico, Côte d’Ivoire and Portugal.
5. The dark horse of Pot 2 is Honduras.
Argentina losing at home to Brazil was not so extraordinary. It had happened before. It was actually more noteworthy when several months earlier Uruguay lost a World Cup qualifier at home to Brazil. That had never happened before.
South American World Cup qualifiers are ultimately predictable affairs, the current Argentine drama notwithstanding. Earlier in the qualifiers, bigger questions hung over Brazil.
Klaus Fischer’s famous bicycle kick.
Papers, podcasts and blogs are full of the demise of Argentina. Maradona makes good press. His Anglo detractors remain bitter. The Argentine domestic game is bankrupt. Yet, despite the noise, Argentina remain poised to qualify. The competition in South America is that stale. A home win against lowly Peru in October should almost certainly seal their South Atlantic passage.
Argentina’s poor form has somehow detracted attention from the failings of some of Europe’s marquee performers.
Yesterday Brazil beat Argentina 3-1 in Rosario, Argentina. Brazil qualified, but Argentina is just about holding onto the fourth automatic qualifying place for South Africa 2010. (The fifth placed Conmebol or South American team will face CONCACAF’s 4th placed side in a home-and-away play-off. The Americas could provide a tasty appetizer for South Africa: Argentina vs. Mexico anyone? Or get the popcorn out for the USA against Venezuela!)
Argentina has some tough qualifying games ahead (particularly Paraguay, and a trip to the Centenario in Montevideo). This could be the first time they fail to qualify since 1970. They are coached by one Diego Maradona, God to some Argentinian (and all Scottish) fans. And some observers and the country’s fans (this is sacrilege of course) think he (gasp) is the problem.
A Test of Faith in Argentina.
Dios Mio! Argentina in Trouble.
Critics round on Diego Maradona after Brazil twist knife against Argentina
[Charged with breaking down the European qualifiers, David Patrick Lane takes a moment to tell us what he really thinks. Next Group 7. Serbia, France, and yes, our Austrian friends will soon make an appearance.]
The 1970 World Cup was a watershed moment for the modern game, if for no other reason than it was broadcast in color. Color TV sets were a newfangled invention then, though many folks have continued to watch World Cups as if they were taking place in snowstorms.
There have been 10 World Cups since 1970. That’s 40 different semi finalists. Yet only four have come from outside Europe.
|The Colbert Report||Mon – Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c|
|Is it Time to Care About Soccer?|
Like a number of other US commentators, comedian Stephen Colbert, who plays a faux-Bill O’Reilly on his show, had to discuss the future of football in the United States. As he describes soccer in the video, above: “.. The sport that [Americans] are the world champions at ignoring.” The US’s success in the Confederations Cup (against all expectations they made it to the final where they lost, after leading 2-0, to Brazil on Sunday), leads Colbert to mock-ask: “Is it time to care about soccer?” What follows is a send-up of American caricatures of football: rioting, David Beckham and warm beer. It’s satire after all. But then Colbert asks his producer to show some “thrilling soccer highlights” and we see video of players of a team in blue passing the ball around sort of aimlessly. The camera then cuts back to Colbert snoozing.
The thing is, unless Colbert or his producers (and his audience?) were in on the joke, they made fools of themselves with that clip as they missed one of the greatest goals of all time: a 25-pass move that resulted in a goal for Argentina against Serbia in the 2006 World Cup in Germany: