We're nearly halfway through the marathon campaign of South American qualifying for the 2010 World Cup, and the past week of action has been one of the more wild and unpredictable so far. Here are five things we've learned after seeing all 10 countries in action:
The worst thing about Brazil's performance was that it had to settle for a frustrating scoreless draw against a side that played with 10 men for almost an entire half. The sad truth is this: The days of the
Brazil completely dominated Bolivia in one of the most one-sided matches of the round, but it lacked any sort of creativity when moving forward and paid the consequences.
Much of the blame should be directed towards Dunga. After Brazil's lop-sided win on Sunday, he should have exploited Bolivia's defensive frailties by selecting a much more attack-minded team. But despite its territorial domination, Brazil could barely manufacture a shot on goal in the entire 90 minutes.
How long will Dunga wait before giving
With the overwhelming amount of quality in its squad, Argentina should be easing past its opponents, but has looked extremely ordinary in recent outings, and its players just don't seem to gel. After claiming Olympic gold (with a large part of its senior team), most expected Argentina to translate that good work to the qualifiers.
But it's been a completely different story. Under Basile's regime, extraordinary players like
Uruguay had a huge opportunity to break away from the pack, but could only manage a scoreless draw against Ecuador at Montevideo's Centenario and now sits in fifth place. The Uruguayans proved superior to their opponents, and although they pressed throughout large part of the 90 minutes, they couldn't manage to break down the rock-solid Ecuadorian defense.
After its miraculous win over Colombia in Bogotá on Saturday, Uruguay was expected to brush Ecuador aside, but it failed to find its feet and dropped points at home for the third time in the qualifiers. With the emergence of great talents like
Meanwhile, Chile picked up six valuable points in road trips to Bolivia and Venezuela in August, and came into Sunday's clash with Brazil in Santiago with high spirits. But
This has been the Chileans' story of the qualifiers so far: They've demonstrated that they're more than capable of playing good soccer, but they've still shown there's a lot to be desired. If they're serious about making their first World Cup in 12 years, consistency is key.
In this edition of the qualifiers, however, home-field advantage has had little influence on the outcomes of matches. As we saw on Wednesday, Brazil, Uruguay and Peru failed to win at home, despite the encouragement of their fans. Until now, the only team with a perfect record at home has been first-place Paraguay.