The Under-20 Tournament came and went, for a brief moment we were allowed to fantasize with actually winning a World Cup, unfortunately it wasn’t to be. Uruguay’s fortune in this tournament came down to penalties. Uruguay’s last 3 games went to penalties – outside of the the Portugal match which gave us some exciting saves from Fénix goalkeeper, Santiago Mele – Uruguay eventually ran out of steam, Venezuela advanced to the much ballyhooed final and Uruguay had to settle for a rematch of their first group match with Italy, which they lost on penalties.
It was a so-so tournament for Uruguay, with the wrong anthem being played yet again, racist accusations, a hotel melee of some kind and a bit of drama involving Rodrigo Amaral and his agent Daniel Fonseca. Uruguay’s World Cup was over and as Uruguay went so did we, we came back crashing to earth with the realization that there would be no Championship glory only the spiked punch Tabárez continues to serve.
But today’s post isn’t about tar and feathering El Maestro – And I won’t get into the two shit friendly matches Uruguay played this month because there really wasn’t anything worth talking about. Today’s post born mostly out of my own boredom has to do with the remaining qualifiers. Today’s question is, does Uruguay have what it takes to get into the World Cup?
There are 4 matches left, that’s it. Despite the slippery slope Uruguay is on, there’s still a chance to get in directly. AND getting in wouldn’t require much effort from Uruguay’s crack’d egg coaching staff.
Uruguay plays Argentina, we all know by now that Sampaoli became Argentina’s manager and that Messi’s ban was reduced by FIFA – Sampaoli has a short window to sprinkle pixie dust on Argentina, can he?
Lets presuppose Argentina gets the win at El Centenario, that would leave us stuck at 23 points. What happens then? Argentina would leapfrog us with 25 points. The matches to keep an eye on are Chile v Paraguay (@Santiago) … a Chile win takes them 1 point above Argentina, these 2 results, would drop us to 5th place. There are two matches to keep an eye on as well, Venezuela v Colombia and Brazil v Ecuador. If Ecuador manages the impossible and gets an away win in Brazil, it throws a live grenade into the qualifiers. If Ecuador wins, they’ll be tied with Uruguay at 23 points. The Venezuela and Colombia match is interesting too, Venezuela has nothing to play for except pride, if they defeat Colombia, it leaves Colombia with only 24 points. Now 2 possible scenarios can occur. With only 24 points, Chile would leapfrog over Colombia, Argentina would climb to 3rd, dropping Colombia to 4th. Uruguay would still be stuck in 5th gear… but a Colombia win, keeps them 1 point better than Chile and 2 points better than Argentina.
This is where Uruguay can make up some ground. Presupposing Paraguay, who currently has 18 points, lose to Chile (99% guaranteed) the Guaranis will have to go for the win when they host Uruguay on September 5th. Before all is said and done, Colombia hosts Brazil… a very interesting match. A Brazilian win, continues a Colombian slide (if Colombia lose to Venezuela on August 31) or starts it. Argentina will defeat Venezuela at home, that game is a lock for them. The Ecuador/Peru match will be interesting – a Peru win, (maybe who knows) will slowly close the window on Ecuador’s chances. But lets presuppose they win at home, here’s what we would have:
Brazil 36/37 or 39 points. (assuming they win on August 31)
Argentina 28 points (following wins over Uruguay and then Venezuela)
Colombia 27/28 points – with a win over Brazil… 30 – assuming they get an away win on August 31 and then defeat Brazil at home.
Chile 26/27 or 29 points (any scenario following win over Paraguay on August 31).. A Chilean away win takes them 1 point above Argentina.
Uruguay 26 points – presupposing rare away win over Paraguay.
Ecuador 23/21/20 points – any possible scenario with Peru following scripted away loss to Brazil.
The key match is Bolivia/Chile – if Bolivia plays spoiler, Uruguay get the win over Paraguay, we’re talking about Uruguay and Chile tied for 4th place.
By October, if Uruguay defeats Paraguay on September 5th, they’ll be officially eliminated, meaning Colombia gets an easy win. Argentina will get an easy win over Peru as well UNLESS Sampaoli’s side is revealed to be a mess… Chile will host Ecuador, Ecuador can play spoiler… this will be a tough match for Chile, this is a direct rival and a hated one at that. A draw here is possible. And then we have Venezuela/Uruguay. Given everything that occurred with Uruguay and Venezuela at the Under-20 level and last year’s loss to Venezuela in the “Centenario” tournament, lets suppose Venezuela gut out a win, will that knock Uruguay out of the standings?
BRAZIL 36/37… 39 (unlikely they’ll get a win over Bolivia but a draw is possible)
ARGENTINA 31 points
COLOMBIA 30 points
CHILE 27 points
URUGUAY 26/27 or 29 points (loss more likely but hey)
ECUADOR 22 points (following losses to Brazil, draw with Peru, loss or draw with Chile) would eliminate Peru.
By this point both Brazil and Argentina have qualified, Uruguay still has a chance to get in even with losses to Argentina and Venezuela. They’ll host Bolivia at home. Presupposing an away win over Paraguay and a win over Bolivia at home, this would take us to 29 points. BUT WOULD IT BE ENOUGH?
BRAZIL 40 points (here we have to assume they defeat Chile at home, lets hope)
ARGENTINA 31 points (I have them losing in Quito, a draw takes them only to 32)
COLOMBIA 30 points (Colombia doesn’t have to do much, if they draw to Peru at home it takes them to 31, a point better than Argentina and leveled with Argentina if Argentina gets a draw)
URUGUAY 29 (following losses to Argentina and Venezuela and wins over Paraguay and Bolivia)
CHILE 27 (following win over Paraguay, loss to Bolivia, draw with Ecuador and loss to Brazil)
At this point some of you might think I’m crazy, but think about this, Chile will participate in the Confederations Cup, this team will be tired by the time the qualifiers start up again on August 31, a slide is possible. Ecuador has a shit schedule, they face Brazil, Argentina, Chile & Peru… Uruguay has one guaranteed win over Bolivia, they have to get at least an away win over Paraguay or a home win over Argentina, which isn’t impossible – with 2 wins Uruguay goes in directly. But you would need Chile or Colombia to slide, Colombia doesn’t have impossible matches, Venezuela, Peru which should be eliminated by October 11, ditto for Paraguay on October 5th.
Uruguay can still win their last 4 matches, these aren’t difficult matches by any stretch of the imagination but Uruguay’s shit level right now isn’t much to write home about, but here’s what we need to consider, the hype surrounding Sampaoli could choke a Hippo, is he up for it? Sampaoli is getting murdered by the Argentinean press, unlike Chile where the press were all tried and true alcahuetes, in Argentina, the press is sick of Messi, Agüero and Higuaín, Sampaoli hasn’t replaced anyone yet, Everyone from Caruso Lombardi, Martin Liberman, Horacio Pagani and even Carlos Bilardo have taken potshots at Sampaoli’s project with only one game in. I think though when its all said and done, even with a possible loss to Argentina on the 31st, Uruguay goes in directly, now with that said, will Tabarez incorporate fresh blood and think about other players not named Suárez, that remains to be seen and is a blog post I really don’t want to write.
Enjoy your summer.