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World Cup qualifying

Lucio defeated, home draw for Demichelis

The eyes of the European footballing world are trained on Euro 2008 in Austria and Switzerland at the moment, but events further ahead are the focus in South America. The fifth round of matches in 2010 World Cup qualifying took place at the weekend, with little to cheer for the Bayern stars involved.

Lucio and his Brazil team-mates suffered a painful 2-0 defeat in Paraguay. A 65,000 capacity crowd at the Defensores del Chaco stadium saw eight-season ex-Bayern striker Roque Santa Cruz hand the home side a deserved 25th minute lead.

Full 90 minutes for Lucio and Micho

Paraguay were reduced to ten men two minutes after half-time when defender Darío Verón committed a second bookable offence, but despite their one-man advantage for almost all the second period, Brazil never really threatened to equalise. Salvador Cabanas’ strike just a minute after his team-mate’s dismissal proved the final goal of the match, in which Lucio covered the full 90 minutes.

Brazil’s weakness on the road is well known, but Martin Demichelis and Argentina’s failure to defeat Ecuador at home rates as even more of a surprise. Indeed, the Albiceleste only narrowly avoided a shock defeat, as the visitors led through Patricio Urrutia’s 68th-minute goal until the 90th minute, when substitute Rodrigo Palacio netted to salvage a point for the home team. Micho played the full game, but fellow FCB man José Sosa was not named in the matchday squad.

Titanic clash

The weekend results mean Paraguay remain top of the ten-nation standings on 13 points, followed by Argentina (10), Colombia (9) and Brazil (8). The top four qualify directly for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, with the team in fifth going into a play-off.

Attention now switches to Wednesday evening local time and the clash between arch-rivals Brazil and Argentina, or from a Bayern point of view, the head-to-head between Lucio and Demichelis. The encounter between arguably the world’s two best footballing nations is sure to be followed keenly in Europe, despite the action-packed goings-on at the continental championships.