A new round of South American qualifiers has just taken place, with Argentina jumping to top of the table with 14 points with a 1-0 victory over Uruguay, on a goal by the returning Lionel Messi. Uruguay, Colombia and Ecuador follow Argentina in the table, all with 13 points, and if it ends as it is, these would be the qualified teams for Russia. Ecuador, who until recently had been on first spot, surprisingly lost 0-3 at home to a Brazil side for whom the 19-year old new Manchester City signing, Gabriel Jesus, scored two goals. Brazil are now taking the 5th place, which is a play-off place, with 12 points, ahead on goal difference of Paraguay on 6th place. Paraguay has gotten stronger after a shaky start, and defeated the South American champions, Chile, 2-1 in Asuncion.
Chile, with 10 points, will be looking for a victory in their next match against Bolivia, to keep up with the teams above. It is nevertheless a testament to the high quality of the teams in South America that there is only four points difference between the 1st place and the 7th, with all having an option to qualify, or running a risk of ending outside the first five spots. The only teams that seem out at this point are Bolivia (6 points), Peru (4 points), and the hapless Venezuelans, who with 1 point are disappointingly out after previous years strong showing. That said, Bolivia, Venezuela and Peru have before shown that they are fully able to defeat any of the other sides, and that just gives the South American qualifiers more flavour and drama.
Be sure that there will be much more!