Argentina’s place in the 2018 World Cup is very much in question after a goalless draw at Peru and with one game left in their CONMEBOL qualification campaign.
Peru held back everything La Albiceleste and Lionel Messi threw at them in the red-hot atmosphere of La Bombonera, forcing the two-time World champions face the prospect of missing a World Cup for the first time since Mexico 1970.
The top four in the CONMEBOL qualifiers table go through automatically, with the side finishing fifth playing a home and away playoff against New Zealand. However, their fourth qualifier without victory that, coupled with Chile’s win over Ecuador saw Argentina drop to sixth in the CONMEBOL standings and outside the play-off position heading into next week’s final matchday. – Cara Daftar Sbobet
Messi — playing ahead of Paulo Dybala who was an unused substitute along with Mauro Icardi — controlled the game for long periods but failed to capitalise, first flashing his shot just wide of the post from outside the box after a superb run, while his cross to Dario Benedetto just before half-time was headed over.
But Messi would have himself to blame as he shockingly hit the outside of the post after quickly pouncing on a spilled save with the entire goal to shoot at.
He then tried to play Alejandro Gomez in on goal in the 57th minute, but Pedro Gallese made an excellent save of his close range shot from an angle, while Javier Mascherano fired just high from well outside the box on 77 minutes but Argentina would get no closer on the disappointing day.
One would lament the draw to the absence of Dybala, who had been the most notable casualty despite his stunning form for Italian champions Juventus, as Sampaoli made five changes to the team who were held to a 1-1 draw by Venezuela last month. The Argentina boss said that it was too risky to pair he and Messi given their similarities and lack of time together.
Argentina will finish their qualification campaign against eighth-placed Ecuador on Tuesday, needing a win to guarantee at least a playoff spot, while Peru, who are in the fifth and final qualification place, will host Colombia in Lima.