Last chance for Messi and Argentina

CONMEBOL World Cup Qualifying

Luis Suarez

It would be embarrassing for Argentina if they become one of the biggest absentees of World Cup 2018.

The quality was therefore much lower, but so was the margin for error.

However, they did avoid defeat in 10 of their qualification matches and will be no pushover for their illustrious and desperate opponents. And at the same time, Peru and Colombia will play against each other and if the match will end up with draw, Argentina will enter the top four ranked and get the ticket of next World Cup directly.

"If they win and Brazil don't lose at home to Chile they qualify automatically".

The other pertinent match sees Paraguay face bottom of the table Venezuela in Asuncion, and Los Guaraníes will be strong favourites given what is at stake.

Then four huge TV screens inside the 53,000 capacity ground will show the must-win game against Ecuador. A tricky scenario, the multi-purpose stadium in Quito rests upon the top of the Andes at an altitude of almost 3 kilometres above the sea level.

Could Ecuador dig in at home and take advantage of the altitude? Los Amarillos looked like a shoe-in to get a ticket to Russian Federation but have been in horrendous form, losing in five consecutive matches.

Those won't be the only absentees, though.

Manchester United's Antonio Valencia (who is eight caps shy of his century) forms part of the squad, but experienced campaigners such as Felipe Caicedo, Christian Noboa, and Jefferson Montero are not involved. The positive news is the return of Enner Valencia, who missed Friday's game against Chile with a muscular problem.

In modern times, Argentina's record in La Paz is little better.

Brazil have already qualified and sit comfortably on top.

Renato Cesarini and Humberto Maschio were both dismissed, leaving Adolfo Pedernera to take charge of the 1970 World Cup qualifying campaign. Therefore, winning against Ecuador is imperative if they want to keep themselves alive. Yet if they win in Quito, they will be guaranteed at least a play-off against New Zealand to reach Russian Federation. Jorge Sampaoli is yet to win an official game with La Albiceleste, and the team is now riding a four-game winless streak with three draws and one defeat. But behind them, there is an almighty battle for the remaining three spots.

It is unclear whether Sampaoli will persist with Benedetto again. As a result, the Juventus star will not be available for this game. Their only absentee is the injured Fernando Gago.

Jorge Sampaoli's side heaved to a draw against Peru in the early hours of Thursday morning.

Argentina have not won in Quito in 16 years.

The report, however, claimed that Messi is "happy with his life in Barcelona" as the 30-year-old Argentine feels "wanted" at the club.

Chile travel to Brazil for their last match, as Peru host Colombia.

Brazil became the second team to qualify for the World Cup in March, joining hosts Russian Federation in the 2018 tournament with four matches to spare.

In terms of their life cycle, the current Argentina team are on the edge of transition, and it will be no surprise to see Messi hang up his worldwide boots if the side fail to qualify.

Brazil's players were reportedly administered with oxygen supply after their game against Ecuador at the Atahualpa.

Latest News