CONMEBOL 2014 World Cup qualifying: Mostly settled in South America

Atsushi Tomura

There's a slight lingering chance of drama in South America, but more likely than not, the top four will stay the same and Uruguay will head to a playoff against Jordan.

Back in the spring, it appeared that CONMEBOL World Cup qualifying might go down to the wire, with all kinds of scenarios in play on the final matchday. Instead, Venezuela have bowed out, Chile have exceeded expectations under new coach Jorge Sampaoli and Uruguay have remained wildly inconsistent. The top five are set and there's not likely to be a lot of drama over the lone playoff spot in South America.

Already qualified

Argentina, Colombia - Not only did both of these teams qualify comfortably before the final matchday, but they're likely to be seeded as well. Colombia's certainly made things interesting for themselves over the last two rounds, failing to show up strong away to Uruguay two rounds ago and going behind by three goals against Chile on Friday. They came back to win a point, but they didn't even have to, thanks to Uruguay's failure to show up in Ecuador. Meanwhile, Argentina are just chilling and letting Lionel Messi rest up for El Clasico.

In good shape

Chile, Ecuador - They play each other on Tuesday and could collude to screw Uruguay. Both are three points ahead of Uruguay, so a draw sees both qualify for the finals. Ecuador has a six-goal lead on Uruguay, while Chile has a four-goal lead, so they're probably both going through even if their game has a winner. Uruguay plays Argentina and it's tough to see them winning by more than one goal.

Have fun in the playoff. Probably.

Uruguay - It's going to take a miracle for them to overtake Chile or Ecuador, especially since the team they're closer to on goal differential, Chile, is the home team in the matchup between those two. Óscar Tabárez can probably tell his assistants to start preparing for Jordan.

We hardly knew you

Venezuela, Peru, Paraguay, Bolivia - Venezuela have improved dramatically from the last qualifying cycle and put up a great fight in the race for a playoff spot. The other three? Not so much. Paraguay's performance following a decent 2010 World Cup run and a 2011 Copa America finals appearance was particularly disappointing, though their drop-off certainly shows off how good of a coach Gerardo Martino is.

What to watch for on Tuesday

What Argentina does without Messi - Is Alejandro Sabella going to stick with the team that beat Peru, or is he going to do a bit of experimenting? Sergio Aguero, who has been a wide forward for good chunks of qualifying, played more centrally as the closest thing to a like-for-like Messi replacement, while Ezequiel Lavezzi took his place out wide against Peru.

Colombia's lineup - Similarly, does Jose Peckerman try something crazy with some new players, now that he has very little to play for? It's possible they could lose their World Cup seed if they lose, so he might not get too weird, but Los Cafeteros have some room to experiment.

Whether Ecuador and Chile look like they can be bothered to do anything - I'm predicting 50 percent possession for each side and something like 15 shots, four on target combined between the two teams.

Which Uruguay shows up - Even during this poor qualifying cycle, Uruguay have shown flashes of brilliance. There was a time when they looked like a better side than Argentina or Colombia early in qualifying. Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani are still two of the best attacking players in the world. You never know when Uruguay are going to pop up with an incredible, dominant 4-0 win.

Schedule (all times ET)

Chile vs. Ecuador - 7:30 p.m.
Paraguay vs. Colombia - 7:30 p.m.
Uruguay vs. Argentina - 7:30 p.m.
Peru vs. Bolivia - 10:15 p.m.

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