The qualifying stages for the 2014 World Cup are gearing up for an epic finale as they're down to the final few matches. Colombia will host Ecuador Friday in a match that will have huge implications for each national team.
Both squads are right on Argentina's heels for the top spot in the CONMEBOL region, as Colombia has a chance to tie the leaders with a win and Ecuador could overtake Colombia for second place if they come out victorious.
Ecuador may be feeling the pressure heading into this contest, as it could fork over its qualifying spot with a tough final slate of Uruguay and Chile to close out the qualifying stage.
Needless to say, a lot is on the line in Friday's match. Let's break down the matchup.
When: Friday, September 6 at 4:30 p.m. ET
Where: Estadio Metropolitano Roberto Melendez, Barranquilla, Colombia
Watch: beIN Sport, beIN Sport Play
CONMEBOL World Cup Qualifying
Here's the latest table from South America's CONMEBOL region (via ESPN).
Note: Top four teams qualify for the World Cup, while the fifth-place team goes to playoff against a nation from Asia
Top Storyline: How Is Radamel Falcao's Health?
It's unclear whether or not Colombia star striker Radamel Falcao will be a go for Friday's match, as FIFA reported he's with the team despite suffering an ankle injury last weekend.
However, Rex Gowar of Reuters (via The Daily Star) said that even though he made the trip with the team, his status is still in doubt for the home match against Ecuador.
If Falcao can't go, the most likely replacement for him would be FC Porto striker Jackson Martinez. The 26-year-old doesn't boast nearly as recognizable of a name as Falcao, but his 26 goals in 30 matches in league play last season prove he's a menace in the penalty area.
But despite Martinez's effectiveness, this just isn't the same team without Falcao up top. If he's going to miss an extended amount of time, or even the final World Cup qualifying matches, Colombia could be in trouble.
How will Friday's match end?
Falcao or no Falcao, these two teams are simply headed in different directions and Friday's match will bring that to the surface.
Colombia has won four straight matches at home, with a lopsided score of 13-0 in those combined affairs. On top of that, it will be motivated by the fact that a win would tie it up with Argentina at the top of the CONMEBOL standings.
Ecuador, on the other hand, drew against Argentina and lost to Peru in its last two qualifying matches. It scored a combined one goal on those matches.
Colombia 2, Ecuador 1