The prospect of a World Cup without Lionel Messi is a very real possibility next year.
Argentina drew 1-1 with Venezuela last night in their most recent qualifier meaning they remain out of the automatic qualifying spots in the South American group with just two games to play.
Jorge Sampaoli’s men required an own goal to equalise and salvage a point away to bottom-of-the-group Venezuela.
Argentina currently reside in fifth place with only the top four automatically qualifying for Russia 2018.
As is stands, Messi and co will have to win a play-off to qualify and even that’s not guaranteed with the way they’re playing.
Argentina were massively let off the hook Chile’s surprise loss to Bolivia.
Alexis Sanchez and co lost 1-0 and missed the chance to leapfrog Argentina and become favourites to snatch the play-off spot.
Argentina play fourth-placed Peru before a tricky trip at altitude to Ecuador and will probably need results from both if they are to scrape through qualifying unceremoniously.
The nature of the team’s performance last night will concern fans.
Messi was typically superb but his team-mates failed to capitalise on the space created when Venezuela put two (sometimes three) defenders on the Barcelona No10.
This one clip shows how reliant Argentina are on Messi…
Beautiful dribbling, an audacious nutmeg, lightning speed across the ground and he can’t even get the ball back from a simple one-two.
Angel Di Maria was the guilty party — and he’s supposed to be one of the better ones.
Messi may be superhuman but he can’t do it all himself.
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