We may not be seeing Lionel Messi at the 2018 World Cup – just let that sink in for a moment.
Argentina’s World Cup hopes are hanging by a thread after being held to a 0-0 draw with Peru at La Bombonera.
Peru withstood everything Lionel Messi could throw at them – leaving Jorge Sampaoli’s side outside of all five qualification spots because of results elsewhere.
It mean the two-time tournament winners face missing a World Cup for the first time since Mexico 1970.
Argentina had chosen to play the match in the red-hot atmosphere of La Bombonera instead of the bigger Estadio Monumental – home to Boca Junior’s arch rivals River Plate.
But despite having 22 shots to Peru’s two, Jorge Sampaoli’s side couldn’t break down the Peruvian defence.
To sum up how bad things have got for Argentina, Lionel Messi even hit a shot that went out for a throw-in on a hugely frustrating night.
REMAINING CONMEBOL QUALIFIERS
- Brazil v Chile
- Ecuador v Argentina
- Paraguay v Venezuela
- Peru v Colombia
- Uruguay v Bolivia
What do Argentina need to do to qualify?
In the CONMEBOL World Cup qualifiers, the top four teams automatically qualify with the fifth team going through to a play-off.
Currently, Peru occupy the fifth place spot with Argentina in sixth place.
Lionel Messi and co have to travel to Ecuador on Tuesday needing a win to guarantee a play-off against New Zealand.
Peru play fourth-placed Colombia in their final group match.
If Argentina lose they need Paraguay to not beat Venezuela and Colombia to beat Peru by a bigger margin than what Argentina lose by.
If they draw, they need two of the following three things to happen:
- Paraguay to not beat Venezuela at home.
- Brazil to beat Chile by more than one goal.
- Colombia to beat Peru or Peru to beat Colombia by more than one goal.
We have a feeling the word ‘permutation’ will be used in Argentina quite a bit over the next four days.
If you do fancy staying up and watching the Ecuador v Argentina match, it’s on at 00:30 UK time on Wednesday morning. We certainly will be tuning in.