Unofficial Football World Champions and Copa America winners Chile will play Paraguay in a friendly match on 5 September 2015 ahead of the start of the World Cup 2018 qualifying campaign. As things stand, Chile vs Paraguay will be the next UFWC title match – although further friendlies could be announced. And, following the World Cup 2018 qualification draw in St Petersburg, Chile now know that the first opponent they will play in the qualifiers will be recent UFWC champions Brazil.
The Chile vs Paraguay friendly will be played at the Estadio Nacional Julio Martinez Pradanos in Santiago – where Chile beat Argentina to win the Copa America and take the UFWC title. Unless another match is scheduled in the meantime, it will be Chile’s 37th UFWC title match, of which they’ve won 12. Another win would see them move ahead of Austria and Wales in 15th place in the all-time UFWC rankings.
Paraguay have won 7 UFWC title matches and are ranked 25th in the all-time rankings, ten places behind Chile. Paraguay’s last title match win was actually against Chile, but that was some 36 years ago, in 1979. Since then, they’ve played nine times without success, most recently at the Copa America in June of this year, when they were thrashed 6-1 by then-UFWC champions Argentina. That loss to Argentina, though, was at the semi-final stage of the Copa America, which Paraguay reached by beating Brazil on penalties in the quarter finals.
Both Chile and Paraguay will take part in the CONMEBOL section of the World Cup 2018 qualifying campaign. The CONMEBOL section is contested as a ten-team league, with the top four teams qualifying, and the fifth-placed team progressing to an inter-continental play-off. Chile will expect to be among the four outright qualifiers, but Paraguay may see a play-off as the best hope of reaching Russia 2018. The ten competing CONMEBOL teams are:
The first round of matches take place on matchday one, on or after 5 October 2015. As previously mentioned, Chile’s first match is against Brazil, UFWC champions as recently as June and ranked 6th in the all-time rankings. Chile have home advantage and, crucially, Brazil will be without their incredibly influential captain Neymar, who is suspended due to his part in the mass brawl that followed Brazil’s Copa America defeat to Colombia. Paraguay’s first match is away to Venezuela, ranked joint-42nd in the UFWC rankings with just one title match win.
The second round of matches will be played on or before 13 October 2015, when Chile travel to Peru, and Paraguay host Argentina. Qualifying matches continue until 10 October 2017, so there is a good chance that the UFWC title will remain in South America for the next couple of years. But a lot can happen in two years – given current uncertainties, will the World Cup still take place in Russia? And will it still be in the charge of FIFA?
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