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Five superb South American bets as 2018 World Cup qualifiers start

World Cup qualifying for the 2018 tournament in Russia gets underway in South America’s CONMEBOL confederation on Thursday night, so Coral football experts ponder five fantastic bets for the opening games in the 10-team strong super-group.

Bolivia to beat toothless Uruguay to nil
Landlocked nation Bolivia have a huge advantage when playing at home as their national stadium in La Paz is at high altitude in the Andes Mountains. Couple this with the fact that Uruguay’s star striking duo Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani are both suspended, and the hosts are a fabulous 5/2 for victory without conceding.

Colombia and Peru to finish level
A draw (3/1) is the most common outcome between the Coffee Growers and Incas with 17 out of 40 meetings finishing level. These include the last two meetings in September and June earlier this year. Both Colombia and Peru possess key attacking quartets that include Radamel Falcao and Claudio Pizarro respectively, so there’s enough talent there to cancel each other out.

Rondon to take Venezuela past Paraguay
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West Bromwich Albion summer signing striker Jose Salomon Rondon has scored three times in as many caps against Paraguay, who are a team in transition. With a proven performer in the fixture at their disposal, Venezuela are well worth backing for a home win at 11/10.

Argentina to endure Ecuador without Messi magic
World Cup finalists Argentina must cope without star player and skipper Lionel Messi for their opening fixtures, but do have plenty of other talent to bear the scoring burden, including Manchester City’s Sergio Aguero, hot off the back of a five-goal haul against Newcastle United.

With Ecuador having their own Premier League performer in Jefferson Montero, despite West Ham forward Enner Valencia missing out through injury, the 15/2 price on a 2-1 win for Tata Martino’s men is worth a punt.

Chile can capitalise on depleted Brazil
Samba Boys pin-up Neymar is banned like Suarez above and, with attacking foil Roberto Firmino injured, Dunga’s charges look there for the taking as they travel to Chile with veterans Kaka and Ricardo Oliveira recalled in desperation.

Up against the Copa America holders, who have their star turn Alexis Sanchez back among the goals for club side Arsenal, Brazil look really vulnerable to counters besides being short up front, so take a terrific 13/8 price for a home win here.