No, it’s not an exaggeration. There is a possibility (albeit slight possibility) that Argentina and Brazil may not qualify for the second stage of the CONMEBOL qualifiers, thus eliminating them from World Cup contention.
This is how it all breaks down: Argentina seemingly has the easiest route. If the Argentinians beat Ecuador tonight, they’re onto the second stage. Ecuador needs to beat Argentina by at least three goals to reach the second stage. Chile has already qualified out of Group A. In Group B, Brazil also has what looks like an easy route into the second stage, but there is one scenario that can knock out Brazil.
If Brazil beats Paraguay, they’re in, leaving the second and final spot open for either Colombia or Paraguay. If Brazil and Paraguay draw, Brazil and Colombia advance. The one way Brazil cannot advance is if they lose by two goals or more to Paraguay and Colombia beats Uruguay. If Colombia beats Uruguay, Colombia advances. The only chance for Paraguay to move on is if Colombia’s margin of loss is at least three goals more than Paraguay’s or two if Paraguay scores at least two goals more. If not, Colombia advances. Sound confusing? It is. Bottom line, wins by Argentina, Brazil, and Colombia send those three teams to the second stage.
If Mexico’s win over the U.S. was the biggest upset in women’s soccer history, we almost had the second biggest upset last night. Brazil played Colombia and took a 2-0 lead in the first half on goals by Cristiane and Marta. But Colombia struck less than 15 minutes into the second half on a goal by Yuli Muñoz to make it a 2-1 game. The Brazilians held off the Colombian attack for the final 30 minutes in what has been Brazil’s closest match in this tournament. Colombia became the first team to score against Brazil in a World Cup qualifier since Brazil’s third match in the group stage of the 2007 CONMEBOL qualifiers (a 6-1 win over Bolivia, and it was on a penalty kick goal by Bolivia). It was also Brazil’s closest margin of victory in a qualifier since April 23, 2003, when the Brazilians beat Argentina, 3-2, in the final round.
Earlier yesterday in Group B, Venezuela beat Uruguay, 5-2, backed by a pair of goals from Isaura Vizo and one each from Nayle Quintero, Karla Torres, and Ariana Altuber.