Published: Wed, October 11, 2017
Sports | By Ivan Ross

Argentina boss defiant but Messi World Cup hopes hang in balance

Argentina boss defiant but Messi World Cup hopes hang in balance

Ecuador failed the second round of the South American selection, and instead of the usual position among the leaders flew past the world tournament.

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

Bono and U2 have agreed to delay their concert in Buenos Aires on Tuesday night until after Argentina's critical World Cup qualifier.

Brazil is already in. Uruguay is next with 28 and is widely expected to qualify.

Messi had taken Argentina to the final of the 2014 World Cup before Germany beat the La Albiceleste. Brazil, with a record five world championships, has qualified for every World Cup.

This time around, Uruguay can feel confident barring a spectacular collapse, they'll be in the 2018 World Cup without needing to go to the intercontinental playoff.

Incredibly, considering how they have already grabbed top spot in qualifying and since they are major rivals with Argentina, Brazil also have a role to play.

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Chile is in a good spot in third place in the table but plays in Brazil for its final match.

One look at their squad, which is star-studded, it is hard to understand about the current situation they are in. A win and Chile is in.

Peru held Argentina to a goalless draw Columbia lost 2-1 at home to ParaguayWhen is Peru vs Colombia? A defeat would see them crash out of the 2018 World Cup in Russian Federation.

Colombia gets an automatic berth with a victory at Peru — regardless of other results.

But a draw or loss will mean they are at the mercy of other results and could slip into fifth place, or miss out altogether.

The Argentina captain was close to retirement after the Copa America final defeat to Chile, but is now is even closer. Los Cafeteros are in for sure with a win.

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Lying a place and a point behind Argentina, Paraguay play host to Venezuela knowing that they will, in all likelihood, have to win to go through.

If Colombia loses to Peru, they'll be in trouble.

Paraguay need to win to keep their chances alive.

Brazil centre back Miranda, however, was more forthright.

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

A draw could be enough for the visitors to finish fifth and enter a play-off, but Sampaoli's men are at risk of missing out on the World Cup for the first time since 1970.

Hence, he has omitted Dybala because he feels that the Juventus star and Messi play too similarly and there is no time to develop a Messi-Dybala partnership.

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The defense is also a fragile component of the team and this is a very winnable but tough task away from home for Sampaoli's men.

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