Draw will do it for Diego's Argentina against Uruguay

Resurgent Portugal hope to seal play-off spot against Malta

 
When the Argentines meet Uruguay at the iconic Centenario in Montevideo needing a draw to secure their place at the 2010 finals they will, however, be no sure thing.
Ecuador, who visit qualified Chile, are also vying for one of the two places, including fifth which sends the occupants into a two-leg playoff against the team finishing fourth in the CONCACAF region.

Diego Maradona's Argentina team have disappointed as they stumbled through the qualifiers, blindly hoping for miracles like Saturday's at River Plate's Monumental stadium in Buenos Aires. Uruguay are the opposite to Argentina in that they are better on a good day than the sum of their parts.

Ecuador had to win their home game knowing it would be difficult to beat a confident Chile side who secured their finals berth along with the already qualified Brazil and Paraguay.  Uruguay will come up against an Argentina team who have shown little in the way of tactics, relying on the inspiration of individual players.

Remarkable recovery

Portugal look likely to complete a remarkable World Cup recovery when a home victory over Malta on Wednesday will secure them a place in the playoffs for the 2010 finals that looked way beyond their reach a few months ago.

Switzerland and Slovakia look set to secure the two remaining automatic European slots while there are also four playoff berths up for grabs on the final night of qualifying.

Most of Europe's big guns are already booking their accommodation in South Africa, though France still have to run the gauntlet of the now-seeded November playoffs.
While France are disappointed to have finished second behind Serbia, Portugal -- the side they beat in the semi-finals three years ago -- will be overjoyed to join them in the playoffs.

After starting their Group One campaign with a win over Malta they lost at home to Denmark then produced three successive goalless draws - including at home to Albania.

Defeat away to eventual group winners Denmark also looked on the cards in September until Liedson grabbed an 86th-minute equaliser for a 1-1 draw four minutes from time.

The late goals, coming alongside Sweden and Hungary dropping points, somehow prized the door back open and a 3-0 home win over Hungary last Saturday combined with Sweden's late loss to Denmark completed the unlikely turnaround. Now, they again have control of their own destiny.
 

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