Agosto 18, 2018

Lionel Messi warns team-mates that his Barcelona form could dip

10 Octubre 2017, 07:41 | Cornelio Vivanco

Lionel Messi warns team-mates that his Barcelona form could dip

Brazil star Neymar against Croatia at the 2014 FIFA World Cup

Argentina coach Jorge Sampaoli praised the "incredible" Lionel Messi, challenging his team to reach the star's level when they face Ecuador.

The players have not spoken to the press since last Thursday's 0-0 draw with Peru and there is an evident tension ahead of their game in Quito.

There is, then, a real danger that Argentina, Lionel Messi and all, will be missing from the 2018 World Cup.

Argentina has been one of the most disappointing national teams in the world, now sixth in the CONMEBOL region with 25 points.

Colombia have not lost a qualifying match in Peru since 1981, when La Blanquirroja won 2-0 in the preliminaries for Spain 1982, their last appearance at the world finals. Colombia, Peru, Paraguay, Argentina and Chile are all fighting for the remaining spots.

Argentina now sit sixth in the 10-team South American section, with only the top four countries qualifying for Russian Federation automatically and the fifth-placed side facing a play-off against New Zealand. If it takes Argentina to win the World Cup for everyone to recognise that, I hope they do. Now Argentina is saved only the points gained in the upcoming match with Ecuador, the benefit of Peru and Colombia is playing a full-time match. The best bet is going to be both teams to score.

- This is one wishful thought, but a possibility. If they win their final match, they are guaranteed a playoff place against New Zealand in November.

Brazil has already qualified with 38 points. No worries for Neymar & Co.

It is hard to believe that a side containing such attacking riches failed to make the 1986 World Cup in Mexico, but a play-off defeat to neighbours Belgium ensured Netherlands - and their team of superstars - never made the trip to Central America.

This Tuesday, October 10, 2017 (4:30 PM Pacific) Ecuador will host Argentina at the Estadio Olímpico Atahualpa for a match in the CONMEBOL World Cup qualifiers.

It gets complicated here.

If the pressure on the team, the position they find themselves in and the state of the pitch wasn't bad enough their record in Ecuador makes things even more hard. If they draw, they are out if both Argentina and Paraguay win.

The Argentines have an abysmal record in away games against Ecuador, with their last victory in Quito coming in 2001. A draw and even a loss could be enough for a playoff spot, depending on other results.

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