Wednesday, 18 October, 2017

Argentina, Netherlands may miss World Cup 2018

Lionel Messi putting Argentina's World Cup hopes on his back Lionel Messi Carries Argentina to 2018 World Cup with Hat Trick vs. Ecuador
Angelica Greene | 11 October, 2017, 00:19

Federation Internationale de Football Association president, Gianni Infantino says Lionel Messi needs to win the World Cup to cement his greatness and expects to see him in Russia.

While the Ecuador team is experiencing a period of transition, they retain one crucial advantage: the altitude. It is possible that Argentina could lose and still make the intercontinental playoff spot, but it is more likely that even a draw would eliminate them entirely from playing in Russian Federation.

While Argentina are riding a four-game winless streak, Ecuador have lost their past five qualifying matches.

As things stand, those two matches would take place in Wellington on November 8 with the return in Buenos Aires on November 15.

He said: "I'm very confident that if we play with the conviction that we did (against Peru) then we are going to be in the World Cup". If all goes well the victory against Ecuador might even help them qualify directly for the World Cup, but for that to happen both Colombia and Chile should lose their respective matches against Peru and Brazil.

Argentina could even pull-off an incredible comeback and qualify automatically if a few results in their group swing their way.

The match was played at La Bombonera, home of Boca Juniors, and only a win would be enough to put Argentina through.

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If Argentina wins on the road at Ecuador, Messi will be in Russian Federation, leapfrogging the Colombia-Peru loser (or both if they tie) and possibly Chile if it doesn't beat Brazil.

Argentina's struggles throughout their 2018 qualification campaign have threatened to leave Messi hanging for a little longer, but Infantino believes that Jorge Sampaoli's side will drag themselves over the line.

Argentina, who have won the World Cup twice, have taken just three points in their last four games. A brutally honest Arjen Robben admits Netherlands have no chance of securing the miracle seven-goal victory over Sweden required to book a World Cup playoff berth.

By around 2:30pm on Wednesday the final phase of South American qualifying will conclude, after games in Ecuador, Peru, Paraguay, Uruguay and Brazil.

The 25-year-old is Brazil's top scorer in qualifying and will surely be one of the stars of the tournament next summer.

Colombia were moments from qualifying for the World Cup last Thursday before two last-gasp goals from Paraguay turned a 1-0 win into a 2-1 defeat. But to entertain any of those hopes, they need to first beat Venezuela and hope again that other results go in their favour.

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