Peru had been a villain for Argentina in past and they are most likely to turn up once again. Argentina played a 2-2 draw against Peru in 1969 World Cup qualification last match, and Argentina misses out from Mexico 1970 event. Peru manages to pull out another 0-0 draw on Thursday to dishearten Messi & Co. and hang their World Cup 2018 hope on tightrope.
Messi tries his best to give Argentina an edge over the Peru, but they parked the bus to defend and tackled every ball to block the shot. Boca Juniors forward Dario Benedetto was given the start at his home ground La Bombonera, but forward failed to make an impact. He failed to convert the chances came to his way in penalty area.
Jorge Sampaoli decision to go ahead with Benedetto and keep the stars like Mauro Icardi and Paulo Dybala is going to be questioned, but Messi himself failed to deliver when his team needed something superficial from him. We have seen Messi rattled himself in pressure situation in past, and once again it was on display.
Frustration rises on his face every time Peru’s defenders tackled him, and his efforts vanish. In closing minutes, he earned the free kicks in his area but failed to make an impact from his solo effort. Dybala could have been handy in second-half, if he would have earned the substitution of Di Maria, but Sampaoli goes ahead with surprised substitution of Emiliano Rigoni. Fernando Gago was another surprise substitution for Ever Banega who only lasted five minutes due to injury and wasted the third strategic substitution to bring Enzo Perez on behalf of him.
La Albiceleste needed a victory at their home against Peru to book their place in automatic qualifier (top four), but result left them worrying out of qualifying positions. They end up outside the fifth position (Play-off berth), which they occupied before the seventeenth match day. Chile – Messi & Co bitter rival who left them bitting their nails in last two Copa America finals, once again managed to move ahead on table with their 2-1 victory against Ecuador.
Now, Messi’s Argentina hopes hang on a tight rope. Uruguay played a draw against Venezuela, but kept his second place berth. Colombia lost 2-1 against Paraguay and slipped to fourth place, whereas Chile occupied their third place berth. Peru draw against Argentina was good enough for them to hang their boots in play-off place.
Argentina is still not out of the showpiece in Russia, but their chances hang on other teams result on last match day. They’ll have to pull a victory in away game against Ecuador on final match day, and rely on others result. If Uruguay manages a victory against Bolivia on Tuesday, they’ll safely go to World Cup finals with direct qualification. Chile will have a tough task playing away against Brazil on final match day, but any favorable result will send them to Russia 2018 through direct qualifications.
La Albiceleste will be closing watching Peru vs Colombia fixture, and they’ll hope Peru do not earn any points from the match. It will give Messi & Co. a lifeline to finish at least at play-off position. Paraguay vs Venezuela will complicate the things if Paraguay manages to pull another victory.
Messi’s Argentina don’t have much room, except to win their final fixture and hope second placed Uruguay loses against Bolivia, Chile loses against Brazil, Colombia gives Peru a hard time, and Venezuela must stop Paraguay from winning their fixture. It’s the only way La Albiceleste can reach to the World Cup finals in Russia.