How Neymar And Brazil Could Ruin Messi And Argentina's World Cup Dreams

Brazil star Neymar against Croatia at the 2014 FIFA World Cup

That sad scenario is a distinct possibility as Lionel Messi and Argentina head into this week's final round of qualifying fixtures in sixth place in the South American standings, knowing that anything but victory against Ecuador could see them eliminated. Yet if they win in Quito, they will be guaranteed at least a play-off against New Zealand to reach Russian Federation.

A bad omen is that Argentina began their qualifying campaign with a shock 2-0 home loss to Ecuador two years ago when they were coached by Argentine Gustavo Quinteros.

Hence, Argentina's last match in the South America World Cup qualifiers against Ecuador is going to be of utmost importance on Tuesday (October 10).

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

It seems unthinkable, but there is very real chance Lionel Messi will not be at next summer's World Cup in Russian Federation.

Messi's only worldwide achievement remains the 2005 FIFA Under-20 World Cup where he won the Olympic gold. Six teams still have a chance for the remaining three automatic qualifying berths, with one more team qualifying for the intercontinental playoff against New Zealand. "In case of Playoffs, we strongly believe that Argentina have got what it takes to beat New Zealand in two-legged tie".

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A World Cup finals without the presence of Messi seems preposterous, but there is a real chance the Barcelona legend will not feature in Russian Federation next summer.

Who's already qualified for the 2018 World Cup?

Peru will be at full strength after they came through their 0-0 draw with Argentina without picking up any injuries or suspensions.

Elsewhere on Tuesday, Chile could seal their qualification with victory over Brazil in Sao Paulo. However, they face a tough trip to in-from Brazil, who have steamrolled the qualification group thus far, and have already secure their place in next year's World Cup. If they draw, they are out if both Argentina and Paraguay win.

A draw will do if Brazil beat Chile by more than one goal and if Argentina draw and Paraguay fail to win.

Messi hit the woodwork twice in Argentina's 0-0 draw with Peru and may well need to be at his very best again in Ecuador.

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