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 By Tim Vickery

48-team World Cup could negatively affect South American qualifying

Gab Marcotti and Shaka Hislop join Outside the Lines and have their say at FIFA expanding the World Cup to 48 teams.
Gab Marcotti joins Outside the Lines to discuss the reasons behind moving the World Cup from 32 to 48 teams in 2026.
Shaka Hislop expresses his disapproval at FIFA's decision to expand the World Cup to 48 teams.

On the website of CONMEBOL, the South American Confederation, there is an article entitled: "From 13 teams in Uruguay 1930 to 48 in the 2026 World Cup."

It is a neat way of reminding everyone of one of the great trump cards of the South American game: its fabulous tradition. This is the continent where the World Cup began and which has won nine versions of the tournament, divided between Brazil (five wins) and Uruguay and Argentina (two apiece).

The big three has provided Barcelona with the "MSN"...

 By Chris Wright

This Rene Higuita outfit at a fancy dress party = Best. Costume. Ever.

What you're about to see is definitely, without the faintest shadow of a doubt, the finest football-themed fancy dress costume ever assembled.

Paying homage to that famous night at Wembley in 1995, this intrepid chap cobbled together a bundle of era-appropriate kit, a tousled wig and moustache, and a swathe of "turf" to recreate Rene Higuita's career-defining moment of ingenious madness.

Without further ado, behold the very finest Scorpion Kick costume you're ever likely to witness...

 By Tim Vickery

Jubilant Peru ready for Brazil test while Argentina need Colombia reprieve

Neymar hit a milestone with Brazil, Paul Pogba dazzles in training and much more in the latest edition of The Sweeper.

Peru had not won an away World Cup qualifier since June 2004. And then, two weeks ago, their nightmare run came to an end in bizarre circumstances. Back in September, they had lost 2-0 to Bolivia. But their opponents fielded an ineligible player, and so FIFA punished them by awarding the game to Peru by a 3-0 margin. And winning on the road has suddenly become a habit. Last Thursday, 1-0 down to Paraguay at the interval, they turned things around to claim an astonishing 4-1 victory. 


Back in form, Falcao set for Colombia return

Thirty-three miserable months after the injury that tore Falcao from his perch as one of the world's most feared strikers, a light finally blinks at the end of the tunnel.

Eight goals in ten games following a return to the French league with Monaco, including four strikes in his last two games, has helped brush a calamitous spell in the English Premier League into the past. El Tigre's form may growl rather than roar these days, but in his native Colombia these flickers of form have caused more than...

 By Tim Vickery

Appetising matchups aplenty in round 11 of CONMEBOL qualifying

ESPN FC's Gab Marcotti explains how Bolivia's forfeits for fielding an ineligible player have affected CONMEBOL standings.

Brazil versus Argentina tends to overshadow everything. But there are some other interesting attractions in Thursday's 11th round of South America's World Cup qualification campaign.

This is a round in which the top six teams meet each other -- and where all but Brazil and Uruguay could be overtaken by seventh place Paraguay, strong favourites to say a winning farewell to all-time top scorer Roque Santa Cruz when they host Peru.

The round gets off to an appetising start with the match between fourth...

 By Tim Vickery

Colombia, Uruguay's hard-fought draw sees both sides poised to reach Russia

Colombia and Uruguay have taken part in a fascinating, hard-fought rivalry in recent years. They battled for the playoff spot in the World Cup qualification campaigns of 2002, 2006 and 2010 -- Uruguay just coming out on top every time. And they met with a quarterfinal place at stake in Brazil 2014, this time with a victory for the Colombians. And now they ended up all square after a pulsating 2-2 draw in the 10th round of CONMEBOL qualifying for the 2018 World Cup.

Uruguay have recently found...