Will world's finest miss the World Cup?

With the World Cup now under a year away, there is considerable doubt as to whether the tournament will be graced with two of the world's finest players.  With Argentina and Portugal flattering to deceive, could Barcelona star Lionel Messi and the Madrid bound Cristiano Ronaldo really both miss out on the 2010 World Cup? South America Brazil and Chile are on the verge of qualification for next year's World Cup after claiming crucial wins on Matchday 14 of the South American qualifying competition. Brazil edged past Paraguay 2-1 to solidify their position at the top of the group.  Having fallen behind to Salvador Cabanas' goal, Robinho equalised and Internacional's Nilmar secured a vital victory for la Seleção. Chile meanwhile moved closer to a First World Cup in 12 years by hammering Bolivia 4-0 in Santiago.  Goals from Jean Beausejour, Marco Estrada and a late brace by Udinese's Alexis Sanchez saw Marcelo Bielsa's side march on. The news wasn't so positive though for Brazil's bitter rivals Argentina.  Following their weekend victory over Colombia, Diego Maradona's men were humbled 2-0 by improving Ecuador.  Second half goals by Walter Ayovi and Pablo Palacios moved the hosts into the Play-off position ahead of Uruguay and just two points behind Argentina who play Brazil next. Europe England took a huge step towards World Cup qualification at Wembley.  After missing out on EURO 2008 Fabio Capello's men crushed minnows Andorra to make it seven wins out of seven in Group 6.  Two goals apiece from Manchester United's Wayne Rooney and Tottenham's Jermain Defoe with further goals from Chelsea midfielder Frank Lampard and Peter Crouch of Portsmouth saw the Three Lions stroll to a 6-0 win. Elsewhere, Sweden kept alive their slim chances of qualification by beating Malta 4-0 in Group 1.  Goals from Kim Kallstrom, Daniel Majstorovic, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Marcus Berg took the Swedes to within four points of second placed Hungary. Already qualified Holland effectively killed off another Scandinavian team's chances of qualification for South Africa.  Goals from Andre Ooijer and Arjen Robben in Rotterdam left Norway rooted to the foot of Group 6. Russia moved to within a point of Germany at the summit of Group 4.  A brace from Alexander Kerzhakov and a late goal by Konstantin Zyrianov saw Guus Hiddink's men cruise past Finland in Helsinki, as they look to make up for missing out in 2006. Out of form Portugal once again failed to impress in Mart Poom's last international for Estonia.  Having scraped past Albania at the weekend, Carlos Queiroz's side could only manage a 0-0 draw in this international friendly.  Portugal are seven points off Group 1 leaders Denmark and this result will hardly fill the Iberian nation with confidence. Asia Goals from Mile Sterjovski and David Carney meant that the Socceroo's consolidated their place at the top of Group 1. The 2-0 victory against Bahrain in Sydney, meant that the visitors will have until the final matchday to secure a play off place.   Elsewhere, Japan were held to a shock home draw against Qatar who are already out of the reckoning.  After Ahmed Ali Albinali's own goal put the hosts ahead, Qatar equalised through a Ali Yahya penalty in the second half. In Seoul, South Korea were held to a 0-0 draw by Saudi Arabia who stay in 3rd position in Group 2.  The Saudis will now need to beat North Korea at home on the final matchday in order to qualify automatically for South Africa with Australia, Japan and South Korea who secured their places at the weekend. North/Central America Mexico edged past Trinidad and Tobago to keep their World Cup hopes alive.  Having lost three of their first four games.  Goals from Guille Franco and Oscar Rojas moved Javier Aguirre's men into fourth place and a potential play off against Argentina. Africa World Cup mainstays Cameroon continued to stutter, being held to a 0-0 draw against Morocco in Yaounde.  The Indomitable Lions are languishing at the bottom of Group A and face an uphill challenge to qualify for the first World Cup to be held in Africa.