By Jayme Monsanto, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO – Disbelieved by its fans after the 1-1 tie with the weak Ecuador squad on March 29th, in Quito, Ecuador (if it wasn’t for the great performance by goalkeeper Julio Cesar, the result could have been even worse), the Brazilian soccer team faced Peru this Wednesday at the Beira Rio stadium, in Porto Alegre (southern Brazil). The game was part of the CONMEBOL qualifiers for the World Cup 2010.
CONMEBOL is the South American Football Association, and in the World Cup qualifiers, ten of the twelve South American countries are dueling for a spot in the biggest soccer competition of the world (Suriname and Guyana, despite being South American countries, are members of CONCACAF, the Central American, Caribbean and North American Football Association, and play in this association’s qualifiers).
Despite the weak result in the Ecuador game, both players and fans were in a high spirits. Many of the top Brazilian players; such as Ronaldinho Gaúcho and Kaká, play outside the country, mostly on European clubs (these two players currently play for Italy’s Milan), and there are few opportunities to actually see them playing live in Brazil. The fans, although not in a great number (the tickets for the match were very expensive – R$70) supported the squad enthusiastically. The players also were glad to be playing in their homeland, specially Ronaldinho Gaúcho and Alexandre Pato, since Porto Alegre is their hometown and they grew up professionally in the city’s biggest clubs: Grêmio and Internacional, respectively.
Brazil’s superiority was evident all over the match, and Peru didn’t show any kind of danger to Julio Cesar’s goal. The Brazilian team was not brilliant, but earned a confident 3-0 victory. Luís Fabiano (a striker that plays in Spain’s Sevilla) scored twice in the first half, and in the second half ex-Flamengo Felipe Melo scored the third goal.
Argentina and Chile were in front of Brazil in the competition until last round, but during this week, Chile tied 0-0 with Uruguay, and Argentina suffered its greatest defeat in WC qualifiers history: an amazing 6-1 defeat against Bolivia. With the Peru victory, Brazil is back in the 2nd place of the qualifiers, 3 points behind Paraguay.
WC 2010 CONMEBOL Qualifier Standings:
1- Paraguay – 24 points
2- Brazil – 21 points
3- Chile – 20 points
4- Argentina – 19 points
5- Uruguay – 17 points
6- Colombia – 14 points
7- Ecuador – 14 points
8- Venezuela – 13 points
9- Bolivia – 12 points
10- Peru – 7 points
The 4 top teams will have their spot on World Cup 2010 guaranteed, while the 5th place will face the CONCACAF qualifier’s 4th place in a showdown that will decide another spot as one of the 32 nations that will play the World Cup. WC 2010 will be held in South Africa (and will be the first World Cup ever held in the African continent) and is scheduled to start on June 11th.