The selection of the 2018 world Cup: the King’s speech

Tuesday. Quito. Ecuador – Argentina – 1:3. Lionel MESSI with partners celebrate advancing to the finals of the 2018 world Cup. Photo: Reuters

In the area of CONMEBOL company to the Brazilians in the final tournament of the 2018 world Cup will be Argentina, Uruguay and Colombia.


The Argentine national team over the past year, did everything to make incredible – to go from being a finalist of the 2014 world Cup to the team who failed to enter into the five of the strongest South American teams (the top four goes on directly, the fifth goes to the play-offs).

Only once in its history, Argentina was unable to qualify for the world Cup, conceding Mexico-1970. The tragic coincidence was the fact that the Mexican tournament, the Argentines were not included, as they drew with Peru (2:2) “Bombonera” August 31, 1969. 48 years later was the match after which Russian plans of Argentina we could put the cross and again in Peru, “La bombonera” and 0:0.

We couldn’t believe it, but with each match, Argentina was sinking deeper in the swampy soil of the South American qualification for the world Cup-2018. The long road to Selva began two years ago, a few months after the Argentines lost the second major tournament in a row after the 2014 world Cup, which went to Germany, came the Copa America in 2015 and the defeat in the final of the Chileans. Upset Argentina started with a home defeat against Ecuador (0:2) and two draws with Paraguay (0:0) and Brazil (1:1), after the 3rd round being on the penultimate place in the table.

It forced the Argentines to shake things up. The pain of large losses subsided, irritation from small omissions with which the team of Tata Martino started more or less successfully cope. By the summer of 2016, the Argentines scored three of the first victory in the selection and considerably corrected the tournament position, leaping from third place, two points behind the leaders.

But in the summer of 2016 came a new problem – the America’s Cup of the century, the confident stride of Argentina all the way to the final three wins in the group with a total score of 10-1, ice-skating rink in the quarterfinals (4:1 with Venezuela) and the semifinals (4:0 against the USA), and finally the decisive match. But again Chile, again a penalty shoot out, and again the blank look of players of the Argentine national team, for the third time in three years watching the ceremony from the side, from behind the scenes.

A major blow for the national team, and for Argentina in General, was not even this defeat, and the fact that after he announced his retirement from the national team Lionel Messi. “I made a decision. I wanted to win a trophy with the national team, I tried to do it, but we’ve failed again. We did everything to win, but… Today I missed a penalty and in the locker room decided that my time in the national team came to an end. I lost four finals, and would be better for everyone if I leave. I really wanted to be champion with Argentina, but I failed.”

Argentina is in a coma – the whole country asked forward of “Barcelona” to my mind, a special appeal to the player said the Argentine President, Mauricio Macri, Edgardo Bauza, who replaced on a post of the head coach Tatu Martino arrived in the Catalan capital to convince him to come back. And with him was Javier Mascherano, who collected things after Messi.

The team survived without Lionel a little less than two months. In late August, he said: “I see in the Argentine football a lot of problems and don’t want to become one of them. In Argentine football have a lot to fix, but I’d rather help from the inside, not criticized from the outside. I was seriously going to leave the team, but too much love my country and the blue and white shirt.”

Perhaps only this with success, with the return of Messi in the national team can be proud of Bauza, because on the football field in Argentina under his leadership, progress was not observed. In four away games, the Argentines scored two points, and after defeat from Russia (0:2) Baus fired. Third coach in one qualifying cycle, became Jorge Sampaoli.

Ahead of him was four games, which was to decide the fate of the Argentine. Cheerfully began to shuffle the lineup and scored several victories in friendly matches, Sampaoli has taken a number of important decisions: the first time in 4 years called up to the national team, Mauro Icardi, unhooked from the composition of Gonzalo Higuain and realized that Dibala and Messi doesn’t get on the field together. A lover of tactical experiments, he began to try different combination of players and schemes, but the official matches he was not satisfied – a draw with Uruguay (0:0), Venezuela (1:1) and Peru (0:0) put Argentina on the edge of a precipice – before the last round she was six and was ahead of the game against the Ecuadorians in the highland of Quito (2800 meters above sea level). This, of course, Bolivian La Paz, where the 3,600, and players are always needed oxygen masks, but still pleasant enough.

One of the biggest problems of Argentina in the qualifiers – catastrophically low performance. In 17 games, had scored 16 goals. And, if Martino and Baus scoring chances occurred infrequently under the leadership Sampaoli Vice versa – three matches, the Argentines 53 times hit rivals on goal (15 on target), but scored only once, with the help of an own goal. But in Ecuador, they needed only a victory.

Hope Argentina to the final tournament has kept the Paraguay striker Antonio Sanabria (incidentally, a graduate of Barcelona). His passing and goal turned to head match against Colombia, the Paraguayans took the victory and forced the Colombians to give our best in the final game against Peru. Thus, the victory in Quito, at least, the withdrawal of the Argentines in the play-offs. All was again in their hands.

But Ecuador is not going to share the points without a fight. Already at the 39th second of the match the hosts went ahead – it was the fastest goal conceded Argentines in the history of their qualifying tournaments. It seemed that Argentina could not cope with another kick football fate, but then took the floor Lionel Messi. His left leg was silent in official matches since March, when he scored a penalty against Chile but the game against the Ecuadorians finally was fulfilled all that he had not been in previous meetings. In the most important match of his team, Messi made a hat-trick, pulling Argentina for the 2018 world Cup and becoming half an hour the best scorer in the history of the South American qualifiers (21 goals), after which the same result was repeated by Luis Suarez.

Tuesday night in Buenos Aires was to be the band U2. The concert was applied to the game in Quito, and the musicians decided to postpone the start of the talk, the Argentines missed biggest match of the year for their team. So they didn’t miss the speech of the King.


For the first time since South America has changed the format of selection for the world Cup since 1998, teams have ceased to split into 2-3 groups for several participants, making one General, in which everyone plays each other twice, is a Uruguayan national team made it to the final part, after passing the play-offs. In 2001, 2005, 2009 and 2013, Uruguay has consistently been the fifth and butted heads with representatives of Oceania, CONCACAF and Asia – Australia (3:1 on aggregate), again from Australia, this time unsuccessfully (1:1, penalty 2:4), Costa Rica (2:1) and Jordan (5:0), respectively.

This time everything went much more smoothly. Uruguay has never in 18 games did not fall in the group below the third place, after selection for second place, ten points behind the leader – Brazilians – and three points ahead of third Argentina. Of course, your moment of crisis was it: three losses in a row in November 2016 – March 2017 – in the matches against Chile (1:3), Brazil (1:4), Peru (1:2) – tickled the nerves of fans and players, but “Charruas”, the name of their team on behalf of an Indian tribe, in ancient times lived in the modern Uruguayan lands, were able to regain lost tempo. Victory over Bolivia in the last round (4:2) brought Uruguay’s participation in the fourth world Cup in the twenty-first century. At the pre-match photo instead of 11 people was 15 – children of Suarez and Jimenez added a tense atmosphere of nepotism.

It is noteworthy that the abundance of scoring in the game with the Bolivians – the work of only the Uruguayans. Four times scoring in the opponent’s goal, two goals they shipped in their own. Beat the that strangers were afraid, began one of the most experienced players and captain Diego Godin, and yesterday caught the namesake Diego Forlan second in the list of players with the most games in the Uruguayan t-shirt (112). First he cleared the ball from the penalty area so that he ricocheted off Gaston Silva, the young defender “Independiente”, and ducked into a corner by Muslera, and then, interrupting the head covered, himself slung the Uruguayan goalkeeper and reduce the backlog of Bolivians in the account.

Fortunately for “Charruas” already had their say their main hunter – Edinson Cavani and Luis Suarez. This pair took part in 22 goals of his team (just in the selection of Uruguay scored 32 goals): 10 account for Cavani (top scorer in South America), 5 (+ 7 assists), Suarez. Striker “Barcelona” did not go far away friend and teammate Lionel Messi double Suarez allowed him to catch up with the Argentinian in the list of the most productive players in the history of the South American qualifiers, they have both now 21 goal.

Cavani and Suarez in 30 years, next summer they will get the maximum throw of adrenaline, and perhaps final opportunity to Shine in the national team at a major tournament. I wonder whether Suarez again for someone to bite, or the right conclusions (again) still made?

All the successes and failures of the national team of Uruguay last decade – primarily, the work of Oscar Tabares, chief of the Uruguayan coach-“longevity.” He works with the team in 2006, 11 years in the history of the “Charruas” specialist, who would lead them longer. It is noteworthy that in 2006 he again came to the team – the first time was in 1988-1990, and then he managed to lead Uruguay to the “silver” of the Copa America in 1989 and the 1/8 finals of the 1990 world Cup. After 20 years, rates increased, but the results have soared up to fourth place in South Africa 2010 and winning the Copa America in 2011. Tabares 70 years, and if health permits, he will bring the Uruguayans to Russia next summer.

A word about health – not an empty phrase. Last year it became known that Tabares it has been several years ill with Guillain-Barre syndrome, a severe neurological disease which in rare cases can lead to complete paralysis and even death. In the football world such diagnosed the Dane Morten Wieghorst and German Marcus Babbel – both players were able to cope with the disease and regain after a few years.

I want to believe that Tabares is also waiting for a favorable forecast. Last summer he almost could not move without a special wheelchair, and now cheerfully arrives at a press conference with elbow crutch. His recovery will be a major Oscar, who will win the Uruguayan national team beyond the football field.

And then she left to compete for the Oscar. In its history of Oscars she has two victories at the world Cup in 1930 and 1950. It is time to update the shelf with trophies.


Immediately after the 2014 world Cup it seemed that the team Jose pekerman bright future: genius James Rodriguez, around which it was possible to build the entire game, man goal Radamel Falcao and Jackson Martinez, Carlos bacca, Freddy guarín and Juan Cuadrado. A selection of players in attack and midfield is no worse than Brazilians.

All this idyll began to crumble quickly – James was never able to gain a foothold in the basis of real Madrid, Falcao unsuccessfully went to the English Premier League, bacca was not able to lead Milan, Cuadrado was replaced by Fiorentina at Juventus and was scoring much less. However in the team of this Quartet tried to forget about the club’s difficulties and as the forces fought for a place at the world Cup. But on the other stars of the 2014 world Cup Martinez and guarin, Rolando Pekerman seems to no longer counts. Last matches for the national team both played in the fall of 2015, and after transfers to China, the situation for the forward and midfielder has worsened even more. In September, He is on pair with Carlos Telecom were taken from the “Shanghai Shenhua” for the extra weight, and Martinez and not spent a single match for “Guangzhou” in 2017. The exact cause of the misfortunes of the attacker, no one knows whether all of limit, whether because of disagreements with the club management. One thing is clear: transitions in China effectively deprived of two Colombians the chance to play for his national team in Russia.

No matter what serious problems James Rodriguez faced in the “Real” and “Bavaria”, after a flight across the ocean he turned back to the boy who conquered all at the 2014 world Cup. While Falcao and bacca, Guarino martínez suffered from the club’s turmoil, James like the James bond, after whom he was named, almost single-handedly dragged Colombia into the world championship. The Colombian has scored 21 goals in the qualifying tournament and eight, Rodriguez took part – 6 sent to the grid personally and in two cases assisted partners.

Thanks to James Colombians did gain points in difficult away games against Chile, Bolivia and Ecuador. At the finish of the qualification finally woke up Falcao is his goal helped the team draw with Brazil, but the last word was for Rodriguez – he scored Peru and Colombia led to the 2018 world Cup.

Since last fall, “Barcelona” is trying to get the 23-year-old defender of the national team of Colombia, Jerri Mine. In mid-August, the Catalans have already agreed a transfer with “Palmeiras” – the current club of young talent, but he very inappropriately received a serious injury. Now the transition is postponed at least until winter, and perhaps before the start of the 2018 world Cup.

One of the main reasons for the persistent interest of Barcelona to the powerful defender is his play for the national team in qualifying for the world Cup. Before the injury Mina managed to take part only in five matches and in four of them Colombians not to concede after three wins and one goalless draw. The Uruguayans still managed to score two goals updated defense of Colombians, but Mine is in debt does not remain – he equalized with a gorgeous header in the closing stages of the match.

Yegor BYCHKOV, Sergey YAREMENKO, Sport-Express

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