Argentina draw a blank

They do not play again until next Wednesday, but Jorge Sampaoli wasted no time in starting preparations for a game that will dictate his future as national head coach.

Argentina awakened on Friday to the horrifying possibility of a World Cup without the "world's best player", Lionel Messi.

"It's true they're in a hard situation in South American qualifying, but we can all agree that if they qualify for the World Cup, they will be one of the favourites".

How big of a deal is this?

The 31-year-old suffered the injury just two minutes after being introduced as a second-half substitute for Ever Benega in Argentina's 0-0 draw with Peru in their World Cup qualifier here on Thursday. Despite the fact that Argentina are struggling to qualify, the South Americans are still the fifth favourites to win next year's tournament at odds of 12/1.

Only four South American teams will qualify automatically for the finals, with the fifth-placed side forced into a play-off.

All could yet clinch an automatic qualification spot depending on results elsewhere. Chile are third with Colombia fourth. On the outside looking in is Argentina.

Argentina have it all to do in their final match, against Ecuador. Chile has the unenviable task of playing Brazil in Sao Paulo.

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Bolivia, Venezuela and Ecuador have all been eliminated.

The two-time World Cup winners now face a daunting final match away to Ecuador in the altitude of Quito.

This comes a surprise as the hosts have been rather goal-shy this campaign - scoring just 16 times - and have failed to find the net in six games so far. The team have managed to score only one goal in their past three matches.

Meanwhile, a late victor by Arsenal forward Alexis Sanchez helped Chile beat Ecuador 2-1 to leapfrog Argentina in the qualifying table into fifth place. First, Argentina threatened to pull out of the Copa America in 2016 with controversy plaguing the AFA. He was pretty scathing of the organisation, supporting the earlier view of Messi, who has called it a "disaster".

There were only supposed to be 75 votes. A national team with Messi at its core has flopped quite spectacularly, to the point that they might soon be responsible for the most resounding failure in the recent history of worldwide football.

"Messi has to be involved in the game".

Worldwide soccer fans follow players like Lionel Messi as the Argentine is consider by fans as being one of the best if not the best individual player in the sport.

It's too close to call.


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