Peru have no special treatment planned for Argentina's Lionel Messi

A man walks past a fence with graffiti depicting Argentina's soccer legend Diego Maradona in the town of Volkhov 130 km east

The on-loan Watford winger was one of four suspended players who had to watch from the sidelines earlier today as their global teammates held Argentina to a 0-0 draw in Buenos Aires to deal another blow to the hopes of Jorge Sampaoli's side of being in Russian Federation next year.

Jorge Sampaoli is certain of Argentina qualifying for the 2018 World Cup in Russian Federation, despite their goalless draw against Peru.

Lionel Messi and Co. now sit in sixth spot in the qualification table, with only the top four automatically reaching the finals, and the fifth-placed team reaching a play-off.

While 13 points behind leaders Brazil, the Albiceleste are level on points with Peru in fifth and just one point behind Colombia and Chile in fourth and fifth place respectively...

With Ecuador scoring a late equalizer against Chile in Santiago and Paraguay doing likewise against Colombia, Argentina would head into the final match - away to Ecuador - with high hopes of qualifying automatically for Russian Federation 2018.

Already qualified Brazil drew 0-0 with Bolivia in on Thursday.

"I am hopeful and confident that, if we play with the conviction that we showed today, we will be in the World Cup", Sampaoli told a press conference after his team's goalless draw with Peru at the Bombonera stadium.

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Or have they left it too late? If they draw, they are out if both Argentina and Paraguay win.

The Sri Lankan capital of Colombo was the unlikely location for the start of the 2018 World Cup qualifiers which, after more than two and a half years, begin to draw to a close.

"The team is already thinking about what is coming, the match against Ecuador".

But one area where all media were agreed was that should Argentina miss out, it won't be Messi's fault. They have won six and lost four, which is below par for a team like Argentina.

Xavi knows Messi well, having played alongside him in a Barcelona team that dominated world football, winning seven La Liga titles and four Champions League trophies together.

It was Peru that was responsible for Argentina's failure to qualify for the 1970 World Cup and Messi will be hoping that this doesn't happen again.

In Barranquilla, Colombia threw away what looked to be a certain victory that would have put them within touching distance of qualification as they crashed to a 2-1 defeat to Paraguay.

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