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International Friendlies: How have major CONMEBOL and AFC teams fared?

These two continental blocs have provided the World Cup with some of its strongest dark-horses.

The CONMEBOL Qualifiers started on the 8th of October in 2015 up until the 10th of October in 2017. Teams that come under the CONMEBOL have 4 direct qualifying slots and the fifth placed team played in an inter-confederation playoff.

This World Cup’s CONMEBOL Qualifiers saw Brazil top the table with 41 points with Uruguay sitting in the second position with 31 points. Edinson Cavani was the qualifiers' top scorer with 10 goals. Brazil, Uruguay, Argentina and Colombia occupied the top four spots and sealed their place at the World Cup. Peru defeated New Zealand in the playoffs 2-0 which booked their berth in the 2018 FIFA World Cup.


BRAZIL

Brazil Vs Croatia (2-0)

Brazil Vs Austria (3-0)

Brazil have breezed through their International friendlies with ease. It’s going to be very hard to find a way to stop this Brazilian attack because this is a team that lives and breathes attacking football.

Tite has a plethora of world-class players at his disposal and this squad pool is really something special and is capable of going all the way in this tournament.


URUGUAY

Uruguay Vs Uzbekistan (3-0)

Oscar Tabarez will be relying on the ever so skilful frontline of Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani. Cavani propelled the side through the Qualifiers with his 10 goals. The Uruguayans had little to no problem in their friendly as they breezed past the challenge of Uzbekistan.

The biggest worry for Tabarez will be to find a member in the squad who can help in unlocking those teams who play with all the players behind the ball. If Uruguay can take care of this issue, the team will be a definite dark-horse in the tournament.


Colombia

Colombia Vs Egypt (0-0)

The Colombians finished in the final qualifying place in their CONMEBOL Qualifiers. The team has not been consistent lately and their attacking quotient of the game is yet to reach its fullest potential. They struggled against a sturdy Egypt outfit only managing a 0-0 draw.

Colombia are in a tough group and in a group where all the teams thrive on attacking. James Rodriguez and Radamel Falcao can cause a lot of damage to any opposition on their day. With a lot of firepower at his disposal for manager Jose Pekermen, he will be hoping that his players have brought their scoring boots along with them to Russia.


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The Asian Football Confederation World Cup Qualifiers began on the 12th of March 2015 and concluded in the 10th of October 2017. They saw 46 teams take part. AFC are awarded five spots with the top four teams qualifying for the World Cup directly and the fifth placed team playing an Inter-confederation playoff.

Iran, Japan, South Korea and Saudi Arabia all sealed direct qualification to the World Cup in Russia. Australia were put through the playoffs where they faced Honduras from CONCACAF. Australia beat them 3-1 to seal their fourth appearance at the World Cup.


Australia

Australia Vs. Czech Republic (4-0)

Australia Vs Hungary (2-1)

Aaron Mooy and Tom Rogic are two of the most gifted Australian players in the current generation. With Tim Cahill worried over his match fitness, these two midfielders will be pulling the strings for the Socceroos.

With the Aussies creating plenty of chances in both their friendlies, the failure to convert them has hurt the side a lot. With some inexperienced strikers in the squad, Australia may struggle to progress from their group.


Iran

Iran Vs Turkey (2-1)

Iran Vs Lithuania (1-0)

Sardar Azmoun is the star of this Iran side. Having been called the Iranian Messi, Azmoun has a lot of expectations that he has to fulfil come the World Cup. Mehdi Taremi also pops in a goal or two for the team.

Iran’s biggest problem is the level of inconsistency that they have shown in their friendlies. They struggled a lot against these sides and have only managed to scrape away with victories in the two matches. For Iran to progress from their group, they will need a miracle.


South Korea

South Korea Vs. Honduras (2-0)

South Korea Vs Bosnia-Herzegovina (1-3)

South Korea Vs Bolivia (0-0)

South Korea Vs Senegal (0-2)

South Korea have played a lot of friendlies from the backend of May in preparation for the World Cup. Manager Shin Tae-yong has been crafting the squad to perfection and the team has been responding.

With Son Heung-min in top form, he’ll need all the help he can get from his teammates as he is the focal point of their attack. With Sweden, Mexico and Germany, South Korea have all the chances to clinch the second spot in their group if they can compliment Son well and get the goals that they desperately need.


Japan

Japan Vs Ghana (0-2)

Japan Vs Switzerland (0-2)

Japan Vs Paraguay (4-2)

Japan have been largely unsuccessful in their friendlies. The team has struggled a lot against the teams that they faced so far in the friendlies but Akira Nishino has put in a lot of work and tuned the squad. With Shinji Kagawa, Maya Yoshida, Shinji Okazaki, Keisuke Honda and Yuto Nagamoto all passed fit, the squad has a good spine.

Japan’s biggest worry has to be their defensive side of the game. With teams like Senegal and Poland who attack the box with a lot of physicality and brute force, the Blue Samurai might find it really hard to cope with this.


SAUDI ARABIA

Saudi Arabia Vs Algeria (2-0)

Saudi Arabia vs Greece (2-0)

Saudi Arabia Vs Italy (1-2)

Saudi Arabia Vs Peru (0-3)

Saudi Arabia Vs Germany (1-2)

One of the biggest worries about this Saudi squad is that all of them only play within the country and this lack of exposure could come back to haunt them. Antonio Pizzi, the former Chile manager has done a good job and could help the Saudis cause an upset or two in the group stage.

With Russia, Uruguay and Egypt in the group along with the Green Falcons, there’s a lot that could happen in this group and that gives Saudi Arabia a very fair opportunity to stake their claim for the second spot. Mohammad Al-Sahlawi is a very good player and top scored the AFC Qualifiers to propelled the team to Russia. Saudi Arabia will be looking to him for their supply of goals.

Published: Thu Jun 14, 2018 12:17 PM IST

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