The September international window is significant because it is when CONMEBOL starts the grand 2026 World Cup qualifying process. In three years, the United States, Mexico and Canada welcomes at least six nations from South America.
As it has become tradition, the qualifications take place in a league-style competition. All nations play home and away against each opponent. The top six teams in qualifying earn an automatic spot in the 2026 World Cup. The seventh-placed team earns a spot in an intercontinental playoff.
For viewers in the United States, Fanatiz has coverage of seven out of the 10 games in the first two matchdays in CONMEBOL World Cup Qualifying. Over the first two matchdays (as of press time), both the games involving Argentina are not on Fanatiz, nor is the Brazil game against Bolivia on matchday two. However, the streaming service does have all seven of the other games.
Matchday #1 (Sep. 7 & Sep. 8)
Paraguay’s game against Peru kicks off the competition in a match that could have plenty of significance. One or both of these teams could end up fighting for a direct berth or playoff spot. MLS fans will see some familiar faces in the lineup. For example, Raúl Ruidíaz (Seattle Sounders), Miguel Araujo (Portland Timbers) and Wilder Cartagena (Orlando City) represent Peru. For Paraguay, Vancouver’s Andrés Cubas plays alongside Braian Ojeda of Real Salt Lake and Diego Gomez of Inter Miami.
Anything but a Colombia win against Venezuela would be a surprise. Venezuela has had its share of surprise results in qualifying. Yet, Venezuela is a bubble team in this qualifying process.
Lionel Messi leads World Champions Argentina in its defense against Ecuador. Argentina and Brazil are a “class above” in South America, and this qualification cycle should only prove that to remain true. Ecuador gets a tough start to its campaign. A trip to Argentina precedes a home match against Uruguay. In the end, Ecuador should be one of those nations that should find its way to the World Cup, and it will give Argentina difficulty in this opener.
Friday kicks off with what is easily the best match – at least on paper – with Uruguay versus Chile. Veterans such as Arturo Vidal and Alexis Sánchez earned call-ups for Chile in this window. Uruguay has no lack of talent either. However, the losses of De Arrascaeta and Luiz Araujo to injury could be noteworthy.
Matchday No. 1 closes off with Brazil hosting Bolivia. Last season’s top finisher in qualifying is likely the favorite to do it again. That makes a Brazil win the most likely outcome. But, this is why we love soccer. You never know when those surprises will come.
Matchday #2 (Tuesday, September 12th)
Bolivia vs Argentina opens Matchday No. 2. On paper it may look like a walkover for the visitors but Bolivia is a tricky place to visit due to the high altitude. In the last cycle of qualifiers, Argentina had to work hard to come from behind to grind out a 2-1 victory. And in the 2018 qualifier in La Paz, Bolivia beat Argentina 2-0.
Ecuador’s games against Uruguay seldom fail to give us thrills. For the 2022 qualifying cycle, Ecuador defeated Uruguay 4-2 in Quito. Another high-altitude stadium that leaves visiting teams gasping. Expect a very exciting encounter.
If Venezuela wishes to be a participant in the 2026 Finals, this is the type of match they need to win. Paraguay did walk away with 1-0 victories in their last 2 visits here during World Cup qualification and will be gunning for 3 in a row.
In another high-caliber matchup, Chile and Colombia are two teams that should participate in the next World Cup. But it’s exactly these matches that produce the drama that is felt down the road in qualification.
Brazil has made it a habit to walk away from Peru with all 3 points in their pockets. After facing Bolivia in matchday No. 1, it seems Brazil picked up the easiest of tasks when it comes to the opening 2 matchdays of the 2026 World Cup qualifying in CONMEBOL.
PHOTO: IMAGO / Sports Press Photo
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