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Lionel Messi warns team-mates that his Barcelona form could dip

10 October 2017

A win for La Blanquirroja will guarantee them a play-off place, and should that result be accompanied by draws or defeats for Chile or Argentina, then they will go straight through.

Gerardo Martino steered them to the Copa America final in 2015 but they lost on penalties to the Chile team managed by Argentine Jorge Sampaoli, who is now at Argentina's helm.

But if they fail to make it, Messi ― who would be in his mid-30s by the time of the next World Cup - would nearly certainly forever be condemned to be judged by the tedious argument that he's not really a great player because he's never won the World Cup.

Martino also quit but Messi came back under new coach Edgardo Bauza, although the team did not improve and he was replaced by Sampaoli.

"A World Cup without Brazil, Argentina and Germany loses its appeal a little", said the Atletico Madrid defender.

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Ecuador's Felipe Caicedo (R) vies the ball with Argentina's Ezequiel Garay during their FIFA World Cup Brazil 2014 South American qualifier football match in Quito on June 11, 2013.

Argentina headed to a hotel in Guayaquil before moving on to Quito for the match, with surely a tough night's sleep ahead for some of the country's superstars.

Messi's only global achievement remains the 2005 FIFA Under-20 World Cup where he won the Olympic gold. Colombia, Peru, Paraguay, Argentina and Chile are all fighting for the remaining spots. The message I'm spreading to the players is that they have in one hand the altitude [of Quito], Ecuador, the challenges and the missed goals. They need a single point against the ninth-placed team. That being said, they will still be keen to win this game since there is some sort of a derby match.

For some Argentinians, the troubles of the national team have been a long time coming.

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"Argentina is all at sea".

"I believe in projects and planning, but in our football, there's nothing". A win or a draw at home to the already-eliminated Bolivia will be enough for them. He dipped out on a home tournament four years later as well, with manager Aime Jacquet instead choosing to build his team around Zinedine Zidane.

Chile could seal their qualification with victory over Brazil in Sao Paulo.

Brazil (38 points) have already qualified, and second-placed Uruguay (28 points) are virtually assured of a ticket to Russian Federation.

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Lionel Messi warns team-mates that his Barcelona form could dip