This seems unreal to type, but Argentina may not make it to next year’s World Cup in Russia. That is an incredible reality. A goalless draw against qualification rivals Peru in Buenos Aires has left them sixth place in the South American qualification section with just one game left to play.
Only four South American teams qualify for the World Cup automatically, while the team that finishes fifth will face New Zealand in a two-legged inter-continental play-off. At this present moment, I believe Argentina would take a play-off spot.
Group table very close
The South American group table is very close. Argentina are level on points with fifth place Peru and just a point behind third-place Chile and fourth place Colombia. Seventh place Paraguay are also just a point behind Jorge Sampaoli’s side in the standings.
It is fair to say that the group a very close one. Literally, any of six teams could finish in the three automatic and one play-off spot, with Brazil already booking their place by topping the group.
La Albiceleste are now in a major battle to win a place at Russia 2018 and have really made it hard for themselves with recent results. To ensure they have a chance they really need to win their last game in Ecuador, which is easier said than done.
The fact that Colombia and Peru clash in the last game of the group could also help Sampaoli’s side. A draw between those two and an Argentina win would put them through automatically, while a win for either an Argentinian win would at least guarantee a play-off spot for the South American giants.
A World Cup without Messi
It is crazy to think that Argentina will not somehow make it to next year’s World Cup. The talent at Sampaoli’s disposal is unreal, yet they cannot seem to get it together as a team.
One of the main factors of Argentina missing the World Cup would be that Barcelona’s brilliant Lionel Messi would miss the tournament and probably his last chance to win the big one. People still say that Messi is not as good as Diego Maradona, as he has never won the World Cup.
The little magician may not get the chance to win one in Russia either. It is not just Messi in danger of missing out for Argentina though. They have a highly talented squad, with the likes Paolo Dybala, Gonzalo Higuain, Sergio Aguero and Angel Di Maria to name just a few available to boss Sampaoli.
It is highly difficult to understand how they have struggled so badly to qualify for next year’s tournament with the talent in their squad. Man for man Argentina arguably has the most talented squad of players in the international game.
Argentina should make the World Cup
Argentina have not missed a World Cup since 1970 and they should have enough quality and determination not to miss this one. However, at the start of the campaign, most observers would have backed La Albiceleste to qualify with ease.
A trip to Ecuador and Quito for their last game will not be easy. However, if the team have any hope of making the World Cup they have to win. 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.
It seems a very unreal prospect that perennial contenders Argentina will not be at Russia 2018. The competition would not be the same without Messi and co. However, at the moment it is a very real possibility.
Only time will tell if Argentina can dig themselves out of the mess they are currently in. If they fail to qualify though, the highly talented group of players only have themselves to blame.
Will Argentina qualify for next year’s World Cup?
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