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 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

Neymar's petulance puts Brazil in danger, while Uruguay top CONMEBOL

At the halfway point of World Cup qualifying, Brazil, Uruguay and Ecuador are looking good, Argentina are missing Messi and Chile are outsiders.

1. Brazil have to get a grip on Neymar

Things could hardly have gone better for Tite since taking over as manager of Brazil. His team have put together three victories, consolidating an attractive style of play and winning back their own supporters. It could hardly have gone better. But there is one problem: the behaviour of the star player.

In the 5-0...

 By Tim Vickery

Ecuador look to get rollercoaster qualifying campaign back on track

Ecuador
With just one point from their last four qualifiers, Ecuador are desperate for points against Chile and Bolivia.

South America's marathon World Cup qualification campaign reaches the half way stage this Thursday - but for Ecuador the first eight rounds can already be split into two halves.

Quick out of the blocks, Ecuador were the runaway leaders after winning their first four matches, which included a 2-0 win over Argentina in Buenos Aires.  The next four brought a scrambled draw with a stoppage time equaliser that probably should have been disallowed for offside followed by three consecutive defeats. 

EcuadorEcuador
ChileChile
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The...

 By Tim Vickery

What has happened to Gustavo Quinteros' Ecuador side?

Ecuador
First after four rounds, Ecuador have now slipped to fifth in the CONMEBOL World Cup Qualifying table.

After four rounds of South America's World Cup qualification campaign, Ecuador were the surprise runaway leaders, proudly boasting a 100 percent record.

But after the four subsequent rounds, their position is not looking so healthy. They needed a stoppage time equaliser, with more than a hint of offside about it, to salvage a draw at home to Paraguay, which has been followed by three consecutive defeats. The one-time leaders are now down in fifth place, outside the automatic qualifying slots.

Over...

 By Tim Vickery

Gabriel Jesus reminds how good Brazil can be in 3-0 win over Ecuador

ESPN FC's Alejandro Moreno discusses if Brazil's gold medal at the 2016 Olympics will be a positive sign of things to come.

This was a match in which a draw would have been an acceptable result, so the era of coach Tite could hardly have started better, with Brazil coming down from the mountain celebrating a win against Ecuador at the altitude of Quito. In a venue where the hosts are so strong, Brazil's 3-0 win is a massive morale booster. It should be a sign of better things to come. It is certainly a sign that, belatedly, Brazil have the right man in charge of their national team.

Tite has had next to no time to...

U.S. team spirit key to sealing place in Copa America semifinals

SEATTLE -- If Clint Dempsey is on the downward slope of his decorated U.S. national team career, somebody forgot to tell the 33-year-old Seattle Sounders forward.

Playing in front of his home fans at CenturyLink Field, Dempsey's goal and assist helped the U.S. record a 2-1 win against Ecuador on Thursday, vaulting the Copa America Centenario hosts into next week's semifinal in Houston.

It was the third straight game in this tournament in which Dempsey scored his side's opening goal, and this consistency...