We interrupt domestic league fútbol action to bring you an exciting weekend of…2018 FIFA World Cup qualifiers! That’s right, there are a bunch of big matches this weekend (yes, the list extends beyond the U.S.-Mexico game), and we’re particularly psyched for the CONMEBOL qualifiers.
Unfortunately, we’ll be missing five South American cracks this weekend. But no worries, most of these teams are loaded with enough attacking power to still get the job done.
Colombia vs. Peru:
Real Madrid’s James Rodríguez is the main absence in this one, as his nagging thigh injury is set to keep him sidelined for another three weeks. Radamel Falcao, Juan Cuadrado, Carlos Bacca, and Teófilo Gutiérrez should be able to provide more than enough attacking fire to lead Colombia to victory, but be sure to keep an eye on Peru’s Paolo Guerrero, el terror de la defensa cafetera.
Chile vs. Brazil:
Neymar. Neymar. Neymar. In case you forgot, Neymar is currently facing a four-match suspension after being sent off in a group match Copa América defeat to Colombia:
You know what this means…Alexis Sánchez will be the hero of the night!
Argentina vs. Ecuador:
Barcelona fans have been crying themselves to sleep since Lionel Messi suffered this nasty knee injury in league play against Las Palmas. How will La Albiceleste fare without him? Well, it’s hard (impossible) to bet against them with the likes of Sergio Agüero, Carlos Tévez, and Ángel Di María on the side.
Tévez might prove to be especially important, even if he enters the match as a sub; Argentina plays its home matches at La Bombonera, so you already know there’ll be droves of Boca fans chanting his name.
Bolivia vs. Uruguay:
Two of our five missing cracks pop up on this list, including Luis Suárez and Edinson Cavani. Suárez is still serving his nine-match ban for biting Chiellini (but wait, did that really happen?), while Edinson Cavani is suspended for two games after being sent off in Uruguay’s Copa América loss to Chile.
The fifth and final first round qualifier is Venezuela vs. Paraguay. Here’s to hoping your favorite teams pull off victories, even if they are missing their stars.