CONMEBOL qualifying for the 2018 World Cup in Russia provided a tense and anxious atmosphere for the likes of Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Peru and Paraguay with qualification hopes hanging by a thread.
Uruguay were far more relaxed on the final matchday knowing they’d most likely be qualifying for a World Cup without the pressure that a Playoff brings, while Brazil’s impressive form throughout the qualifying campaign guaranteed them a place in Russia last month.
Nonetheless, we begin our list of South American nations who are heading to the World Cup with five-time champions Brazil.
Undefeated in World Cup Qualifying since 2015, Brazil are in red-hot form heading into the 2018 Finals. They are spearheaded by one of the most exciting players in world football, Neymar, and have a host of supporting acts which will give them every right to think they can avenge their embarrassing 2014 exit in 2018.
Second-placed Uruguay are heading to the World Cup by direct qualification for the first time since 1990. Uruguay finished 5th in CONMEBOL qualifying campaigns for the 2002, 2006, 2010 and 2014 World Cups, winning qualification every time barring 2006, when they were knocked out in the Playoffs by Australia.
What would a World Cup look like without Argentina? It’s been almost 50 years since La Albiceleste haven’t featured at a World Cup and, prior to Argentina’s final CONMEBOL qualifier against Ecuador, was looking a likely outcome. That was before Lionel Messi turned on the style with a match-winning and World Cup-qualifying performance, scoring a hattrick en route to a vital 3-1 victory.
Colombia waddled their way to a direct qualifying spot by finishing 4th, one point above 5th placed Peru and 6th placed (and heartbroken) Chile, a close call for Jose Pekerman’s side. Colombia won none of their final four games, drawing three and losing one, but ultimately did enough to get where they needed to be: the 2018 World Cup.