Cups

South American qualifying is tainted by an English club’s player ban.

According to Uruguay veteran Diego Godin, the refusal of leading English Premier League clubs to release prominent players due to coronavirus quarantine laws has "tainted" South American World Cup qualifying.

According to Uruguay veteran Diego Godin, the refusal of leading English Premier League clubs to release prominent players due to coronavirus quarantine laws has “tainted” South American World Cup qualifying.

Already without the injured Luis Suarez, the two-time world champions will be without their other attacking hero, Manchester United’s Edinson Cavani.

The Premier League’s behemoths, including champions Manchester City, Liverpool, and Chelsea, have refused to let a slew of players to join their national teams because they are scheduled to play in red-list countries, requiring them to quarantine for ten days upon their return to England.

They would be forced to miss two league games as well as a Champions League match as a result of this.

In a classic club versus country match, national sides have lost out, with Brazil, in particular, having to make do with nine players who were originally called up by coach Tite.

“All I’ll say is the truth: what happened has tainted the competition,” Godin told reporters following his arrival in Uruguay from Cagliari in Italy.

“It’s unusual for national teams to be unable to rely on the players chosen by their coaches.

“We’re without Edi in our case, and it’s not unusual for players to be undecided about whether or not to attend since they’re stuck in the middle.”

It’s a tough setback for Uruguay in a qualification race where eight teams are separated by just five points, from third-placed Ecuador to bottom-placed Peru.

Uruguay will visit Peru on Thursday before hosting Bolivia and Ecuador the following day.

BRAZIL TO DEVELOP ‘RESERVES’ IN THE FIELD

Around 30 players were expected to be unavailable at one stage when the Spanish, Italian, and Portuguese leagues joined their English counterparts in stating that clubs who block their players from traveling would be supported.

However, due to various quarantine regulations, those leagues yielded, allowing players based in Spain, Italy, or Portugal to attend all club games.

Brazil has been hit the worst, with Thiago Silva of Chelsea, Alisson, Roberto Firmino, and Fabinho of Liverpool, Ederson and Gabriel Jesus of Manchester City, and Fred of Manchester United all missing.

The Selecao, on the other hand, is the only country with the depth of talent to recover from such a setback, and after winning their first six qualifying matches, they are six points clear at the top of the single CONMEBOL standings.

The majority of experts believe Brazil’s reserves would qualify from the group anyway, but they will not want to lose to arch-rival Argentina under any circumstances.

With Lionel Messi and Neymar set to meet each other for the first time as Paris Saint-Germain teammates on September 5, that blockbuster was supposed to be the big talking point from these qualifications.

On Saturday, Messi made his PSG debut as a substitute in a 2-0 win over Reims.

He helped Argentina end a 27-year wait for a major championship by beating Brazil 1-0 in the Copa America final at the Maracana less than two months ago.

The match will take place in Sao Paulo this time, and it will be the highlight of the three matchdays.

Following repeated coronavirus-related postponements last year and earlier this year, the world football governing body Fifa decided to add a third matchday, which started the club vs country rivalry.

BRERETON, CULT FIGURE

Chile, who face Brazil on Thursday, are also without players, with Watford’s Francisco Sierralta and second-tier Blackburn’s Ben Brereton unable to travel.

Brereton, who qualified for Chile through his mother, will be especially missed after becoming an instant hit after his debut for Chile during the Copa America in June-July.

He appeared in each of Chile’s five tournament games, scoring the game-winning goal against Bolivia.

Brereton has become something of a cult figure in Chile when his eligibility was supposedly discovered by fans of a football video game, who then organized a social media campaign to get him nominated.

Other matches on Thursday include Argentina’s trip to Venezuela to defend their unbeaten start, Ecuador’s visit to Paraguay, and Bolivia’s visit to Colombia.

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