Published: Wed, October 11, 2017
Sports | By Grace Becker

Trending: Argentina have to step up, follow Lionel Messi example - Jorge Sampaoli

Trending: Argentina have to step up, follow Lionel Messi example - Jorge Sampaoli

Argentina does not lose in the last five matches, but in the selection matches, she cannot win in the last 4 meetings, losing 1 time and three draws. A single point could also see them move above Chile and Colombia as long as both those teams lose by a two-goal margin. Even if they do turn things around and defeat Ecuador, victory may not be enough to guarantee them a spot in Russian Federation.

So while we lament the potential loss of Messi from the showpiece event in Russian Federation, we also need to brace ourselves for the fact that his arch nemesis could also join him in missing the FIFA World Cup.

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Their final qualifier is in Ecuador, who have already been eliminated but beat Argentina 2-0 the first time the two sides met in the South American qualifiers. In the autumn, the national team of Ecuador lost to Brazil 0: 2, Peru 1: 2 and Chile 1: 2. Colombia has the same 26 points but there is a little goal difference and so, they are one step behind than Chile.

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The match was played at La Bombonera, home of Boca Juniors, and only a win would be enough to put Argentina through. But manager Jorge Celico - who was appointed a few weeks ago to replace Gustavo Quinteros - has said the team wants to end the qualifying campaign with a win over Argentina.

With the only group leader assured of an automatic qualification from the UEFA section, Ronaldo and company face the real threat of finishing second and navigating a potentially tricky play-off tie in order to qualify for Russian Federation 2018. A win will guarantee the visitors a ticket to Russian Federation, while any other result will leave them sweating on events elsewhere.

Chile were under Argentine-born former Spain striker Juan Antonio Pizzi when they stunned Argentina again a year later in the final of the Centenary Copa America in the United States, also on penalties after another 0-0 draw.

Ecuador had a solid run in this CONMEBOL region, now eighth with 20 points but its World Cup aspirations are already over.

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For Leo Messi it could be another struggle as he looks to lift his Argentina side to a win in the altitude of Ecuador.

But, as mentioned above, Peru hasn't beaten Colombia at home in a World Cup qualifier since 1981, the year it last qualified for a World Cup.

If Argentina loses, La Albiceleste do have a chance to qualify only if Paraguay loses and Peru loses by more goals than Argentina's loss.

On that occasion, Argentina tried a frenetic counter-attacking style that played in to the hands of the hosts. For that to happen, they need their star players to appear when it matters the most.

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