The increase in South American quotas in the 2026 World Cup in the United States, Mexico and Canada is forcing the South American Football Confederation to seek to change the shape of the tie. Six CONMEBOL teams will get a direct quota for the World Cup and another team can make it through the playoffs.
Thus, the system of all against all, which has been in place since the qualifying round for the World Cup in France 98, looks very long. For the number of lots to be delivered, for which there is already an idea underway to change.
This is how you play the next tie
The approach is that the teams are divided into two groups of five, with the novelty that they will not play against each other, but only against the five competitors from the other region.. In other words, in this first part of the tie, all teams will play 10 matches, which is eight matches less than the current format.
The first two from each group will have a direct stake in the World Cup, Although later they will play a symbolic playoff: the semi-finals and the final, in the home and away matches.
There will be something new of interest in the third and fourth-placed teams in each region. they will play 3rd of A vs 4th of B and 3rd of B vs 4th of A, in home and away matches. The winners advance to the World Cup Finals, and the losers fight another duel on the field. The bottom of each group will be eliminated.
Is changing the format suitable for Colombia?
How does this elimination system affect the Colombian national team? It should be noted that the team was eliminated from the World Cup in Qatar 2022 to finish sixth in the tie, and that result cost coach Reinaldo Rueda his job.
“Switching is frustrating when there are no results, there is a lack of confidence, we have to work hard to achieve that, humbly the boys will go in many games, the substitutions are done through the strength of the group, but we have players with a lot of experience,” Lorenzo said in his official presentation. My philosophy is to respect the essence of Colombian football, not to feel less than anyone else, but with a little more intensity.
There is a clear factor in Colombia’s favour: two other places are at stake. Colombia did not finish seventh in the first round qualifiers. The worst position is seventh on the road to South Africa 2010. This indicates that this may be enough to fight for a place.
However, there is a key factor that forces the national team to quickly find a good performance: The margin of error is smaller if it is taken into account that there will be eight fewer games, Any missed point can complicate aspirations.
In addition, the goal should be to target the first two points of the group to avoid any kind of shock and not end the fight for a place in the playoffs. Also get the most points to climb up the positions in the FIFA world rankings, which will be taken into account in the World Cup group draw.
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The 2026 World Cup will feature 48 teams, which will be divided into 16 groups of 3. The first two teams from each region will advance to the Round of 32, after which there will be direct qualification brackets. But to get there, Colombia will have to play a draw that will not be long, but the demand for it remains.