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World Cup: Three-way battle on the agenda in South America

The South American World Cup qualifying campaign is nearing its conclusion, and there are five matches on the cards in the early hours of Wednesday morning.

(This article was originally published on 29.03.2022)

Brazil, Argentina, Ecuador and Uruguay have already sealed their place at the World Cup in Qatar.

However, fifth-placed Peru are looking over their shoulder ahead of their game against Paraguay, with Colombia and Chile still hoping to finish in the top five.

Momentum the key for Selecao

Brazil have already confirmed they will finish the South American qualifying campaign on top of the pile after picking up 13 wins from their first 16 matches.

Tite's side have yet to lose so far, and they will be desperate to extend their unbeaten run when they take on Bolivia in La Paz.

Selecao are unbeaten in their previous ten matches, with their last defeat coming at the hands of Argentina during the final of the Copa America. in July 2021.

After successive 4-0 wins over Paraguay and Chile, confidence is high in the Brazil camp, and they appear to be playing Bolivia at the right time.

Cesar Farias' men have lost three on the spin, and it comes as no surprise to see them priced at 5/1 to pick up all three points.

Tite's men have kept three clean sheets in their last four qualifiers on the road, and they are 13/8 to win to nil this week.

That price looks good value, especially with Bolivia due to play without top scorer Marcelo Moreno.

Tite has a wealth of options at his disposal, with Neymar and Vinicius Junior set to play as part of a three-man attack, while any one of Anthony, Richarlison, Lucas Paqueta, Gabriel Martinelli and Phillipe Coutinho could battle for the final spot up front.

Chile have it all to do

Chile and Uruguay will battle it out in Santiago on Tuesday, with the former knowing they have to win to have any chance of qualifying for Qatar.

Uruguay have already sealed their spot, but Chile can still sneak into fifth if they pick up three points and results go their way.

Martin Lasarte's troops are two points behind the playoff places, while Colombia are one point ahead of them.

That means La Roja need both Peru and Colombia to lose, and their record against Uruguay is not a formidable one.

Uruguay have only lost one of the previous five meetings between the pair, and they are 5/2 to win on foreign soil.

La Celeste have three on the spin under coach Diego Alonso, and they should be able to collect all three points, especially with Chile sweating on the fitness of Ben Brereton Diaz.

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No need to panic in Guayaquil

Having both already qualified for this year's World Cup, Ecuador and Argentina will get to play without pressure during Tuesday's battle in Guayaquil.

Ecuador have defied the odds to secure a top-four finish, but they may need to produce their best performance of the qualifying campaign to hand the Albiceleste their first defeat.

Other results of late have helped La Tri after they failed to win any of their previous four games.

Despite a 3-1 defeat to Paraguay last time out, Gustavo Alfaro is expected to stick with a similar starting XI for their clash with Argentina.

Enner Valencia will lead the line, but he could be in for a quiet night at the office, with Lionel Scaloni's outfit only conceding seven goals in qualifying.

Argentina are 7/4 to win to nil on Tuesday, a bet that would have landed in their last two clashes against Ecuador.

All eyes on Peru

Peru know their World Cup destiny is in their own hands as they prepare to take on Paraguay at the Estadio Nacional de Lima on Tuesday evening.

This week, Paraguay can only spoil the party, with qualification not an option after a lacklustre campaign.

Peru have only lost one of their previous seven games, but that defeat came at the hands of Uruguay last Thursday.

Ricardo Garcea's side, who are 1/2 to beat Paraguay, will hope that was just a blip and they can get back to winning ways when it matters most.

A win will be enough for La Blanquirroja, and they are unbeaten in each of the last eight meetings between themselves and Paraguay.

Peru's Andre Carrillo will play no part in Tuesday's tie due to an ACL injury, meaning Christofer Gonzales and Edison Flores are fighting it out to replace him.

Paraguay full-back Blad Riveros is suspended, while Robert Morales will miss out through injury.

Colombia ready to pounce

Colombia still have a chance of qualifying for Qatar as they prepare to play their final fixture against Venezuela.

Reinaldo Rueda's troops have missed out on the top four, but fifth is still in their grasp, although, as we explained earlier, Peru's result will decide their fate.

Venezuela have been the whipping boys of this year's campaign, winning only three of their first 17 fixtures. They should pose no threat to Colombia, but La Tricolor are winless in their last six on their travels.

They have also failed to score in three successive games away from home, but with so much on the line and the likes of James Rodriguez, Juan Cuadrado ready to start; Colombia should get the job done at 8/13.

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