If you didn’t read part one of my article, I recommend you do. It can be found here: I wrote about the best players from the top five COMNEBOL nations. COMNEBOL, the South American soccer federation, has ten registered nations, and in this article, I will look at the five nations that I did not review in my first article.
Peru (Paolo Guerrero)
World Ranking: 21
Peru’s soccer team is surprisingly on the up swing, having qualified for the 2018 World Cup, which was the team’s first World Cup in 36 years. They only won one game, a 2-0 victory over Australia, but it was a great step for a nation that hasn’t won a tournament since the Copa America in the 1974/75 season. Leading the lines was captain and frontman Paolo Guerrero, who was 34 at the time but still contributed to all of Peru’s World Cup goals. Guerrero wasn’t even supposed to play due to a doping ban, but his appeal was successful and he got to play.
Peru followed up that tournament with the 2019 Copa America, which started out poorly with a draw against Venezuela and a 5-0 loss to hosts Brazil. Guerrero and Peru then beat Uruguay in the quarter finals and two-time defending champions Chile in the semifinals, with Guerrero scoring against Chile. They played Brazil in the final, but lost 3-1 in a close match until the 90th minute. Guerrero got Peru’s only goal.
Now aged 36, Guerrero plays for Brazilian club Internacional. The season has been postponed, but until the season was stopped Guerrero had played every minute of Internacional’s Copa Libertadores time. In the past, Guerrero played for some of the best teams in the world including Flamengo, Corinthians, Hamburg, and Bayern Munich.
Venezuela (Josef Martinez)
World Ranking: 25
Josef Martinez has pulled a Lionel Messi! Martinez retired from international duty in 2019 after the Copa America, citing a poor relationship with former coach Rafael Dudamel. Dudamel left in January of 2020, and shortly thereafter Jose Peseiro was appointed coach and now, Josef Martinez is set for a Venezuela return.
Currently playing in the Major League Soccer (MLS), Josef Martinez has been incredible. In 230 games for various senior teams in Switzerland, Venezuela and Italy, Martinez scored just 35 goals. Since joining Atlanta United, Martinez has scored 90 goals in 103 games, and won the MLS Cup, US Open Cup, MLS Golden Boot and MLS MVP.
Venezuela is the only team from CONMEBOL to have never qualified for a World Cup, but that could soon change. With prime Martinez returning to the national team to join other veterans Tomas Rincon and Salomon Rondon, Venezuela has never looked better. Add in young, emerging players in Manchester City’s Nahuel Ferraresi, RC Lens goalkeeper Wuilker Farinez and Watford’s Adalberto Peñaranda, and this team should be a shoo-in for the 2022 World Cup.
Paraguay (Miguel Almiron)
World Ranking: 41
Miguel Almiron has pulled the reverse Josef Martinez, reaching his prime early with Atlanta United before moving to Europe with Premier League side Newcastle United. Almiron has done fairly well, contributing to ten goals in 48 matches, but has somehow been linked to Real Madrid and FC Barcelona.
Whilst that might be an overstatement, Almiron is very talented and the best player in his country by some distance as Paraguay have a relatively old squad even though he has made just 26 appearances for the senior team. Fortunately, they have had some young players start to break into squads in Switzerland, Brazil and Argentina, which means that if the Paraguayans are patient, Paraguay might soon have a very good squad and be able to make it past the quarterfinals of an international competition.
Ecuador (Michael Estrada)
World Ranking: 63
In part one of this article, I mentioned that Colombia and Chile are starting to suffer from lack of youth development. Ecuador have already suffered, having played in the 2014 World Cup with a relatively aged squad. They failed to replace players adequately, they missed the 2018 World Cup, and have plummeted to 63rd in FIFA’s rankings of the best team in the world.
Ecuador have recovered nicely of late, thanks to a large portion of young players going to the Mexican first tier, the Liga MX. This includes 24 year-old Michael Estrada, who has been capped eight times despite his young age and joined Mexican team Toluca in January.
Toluca also have former MLS star Joao Plata, but Plata has not made an appearance for Ecuador since 2018 when Ecuador tied Oman 0-0. Plata was subbed off at the half.
Bolivia (Juan Carlos Arce)
World Ranking: 75
Bolivia are currently the worst team in COMNEBOL, showcased in the 2019 Copa America when they lost all three group stage games to Brazil, Peru and Venezuela. However, Bolivia are more than capable of putting a good performance together, and when they do Juan Carlos Arce is nearly always involved. They beat Chile 1-0 in the 2018 World Cup Qualifying, with Juan Carlos scoring the decisive penalty. Juan Carlos also grabbed a goal as Bolivia beat Argentina 2-0, also in the 2018 World Cup Qualifying. Don’t expect Bolivia to be in the World Cup anytime soon.
My advice for CONMEBOL is to try to get Suriname and Guyana into the conference, and to stop allowing non-regional teams in a regional tournament. If you believe there is a better player, you want to say who your country’s best player is, or just have any questions for me, please leave a comment. Don’t worry if your comment does not show up, all comments must be approved due to the amount of spam comments received. I hope you enjoyed, and as always, keep watching soccer!