Uruguay and Colombia trending up; Argentina heading down

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) Uruguay and Colombia are heading the right way in bids to qualify for next year's World Cup.

Headed the wrong way is Argentina, the runner-up three years ago in Brazil.

Argentina coach Jorge Sampaoli was supposed to bring an attacking style. Instead, a team led by Lionel Messi managed only one goal in two recent World Cup qualifiers - and that came from an opponent's own-goal in Tuesday's 1-1 draw with lowly Venezuela in Buenos Aires.

Sampaoli says ''we have it in us. The players are top-rank.''

Brazil has already qualified. The next seven teams are separated by only seven points going into the last two rounds. Four teams advance automatically, while a fifth could make it via a two-game playoff with New Zealand. That could be Argentina's fate.

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