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3 CONMEBOL/CONCACAF World Cup Qualifiers to watch this week

Thursday 5th October 2017
As with UEFA, the CONMEBOL and CONCACAF World Cup Qualifiers are entering critical moments. Here are three games from the two regions not to be missed this week.

Argentina vs Peru - CONMEBOL (Friday, 0:30 BST)

Neither team would be eliminated with a loss, meaning this isn't a do-or-die match. Still, the contest at La Bombonera could be crucial in deciding both countries' foreseeable futures - World Cup berths remain up for grabs. Argentina should have the edge since they play at home, but recent form favours Peru.

If we look at the two teams, there is no doubt that Jorge Sampaoli's men have a clear edge when it comes to player-by-player comparison. Gonzalo Higuain and Sergio Aguero haven't travelled with the squad, but the former Sevilla manager still has Lionel Messi, Mauro Icardi, Paulo Dybala and Angel Di Maria to assemble a deadly attacking line. Can Peru stop them?

Ricardo Gareca, a 59-year-old Argentine who manages Peru, has assembled a surprisingly good team. One that relies heavily on a strong defence and two difference-making players: Paolo Guerrero and Christian Cueva. Although winning in La Bombonera will be difficult, maybe it's the final step Los Incas must make to prove they belong with the big boys. After all, they have turned heads with their play during the entire qualifying campaign.
Victory against one of the most prestigious footballing nations would reinforce what Peru have achieved during past two years. But Argentina is not going to make it easy. This game will affect both teams' World Cup prospects, so it's undeniably the biggest match in the CONMEBOL region this week.

Chile vs Ecuador - CONMEBOL (Friday, 0:30 BST)

Chile have their backs against the wall. The reigning two-time Copa America champions have stumbled of late, losing three out of their last four matches, and they now sit in sixth place. It's still in their own hands, though. A win over Ecuador moves Chile into the playoff zone, possibly higher, depending what happens when Argentina meet Peru.

Chile's problem is they're playing a team that has everything to lose. Ecuador started the qualifiers with four straight wins but have collected only eight points in last 12 matches. The situation is simple for them now. If they lose/draw their next match, they are eliminated. Quite a challenge for Jorge Celico, who replaced Gustavo Quinteros only a few weeks ago, and his new-looking squad.
On paper, Chile have the edge. They look the stronger team, play at home, have the best players, and are higher in the standings. However, both teams have struggled in recent qualifying matches. This is an intriguing game and one not to be missed.

USA vs Panama - CONCACAF (Saturday, 0:35 BST)

The USMNT have gone through a transitional period during the CONCACAF World Cup Qualifiers. Jurgen Klinsmann was replaced in the manager's hot seat by Bruce Arena in an effort to turn things around. Although the turnaround is far from complete, Arena's team are in the playoff zone with two fixtures remaining. Their next game against Panama - who sit third with 10 points, one more than USA - is absolutely key.

Panama have been a pleasant surprise so far. They do not have the same talent available as USA, Mexico or Costa Rica, however, they are competing against them toe-to-toe. Los Canaleros only have seven goals in eight matches, but the strength of their defensive unit (only five goals conceded) has carried them to this point. Can they produce a stellar display on American soil?
USA have the advantage since they are the more accomplished side and play at home. But they have been underwhelming during the World Cup Qualifiers, whereas Panama have impressed. Knowing this game could decide the fate of both teams, there is little doubt it emerges as a must-watch contest on the North American region.
Juan Pablo Aravena

29-year-old sports analyst and journalist with over three years of experience in the industry. Writes about all kinds of sports from football to golf, but there is no question his biggest passion in life is football. Manchester United, Borussia Dortmund and Colo Colo fan.

Total articles: 190

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