Argentina in real danger of missing out on 2018 World Cup

Argentina in real danger of missing out on 2018 World Cup

Argentina face the biggest two matches of their World Cup qualifying campaign in the next few days, starting with hosting Peru on Thursday night.

Peru had started the penultimate round of qualifiers in fourth in the table but the draw, coupled with Chile's 2-1 win over Ecuador, means they have dropped out of the automatic spots and into the play-off place in fifth, remaining ahead of Argentina on goal difference.

Brazil, who have already qualified, sit comfortably at the top with 38 points followed by Uruguay (28 points), Chile, Colombia (26 points) and Peru (25 points).

Argentina's final qualifier comes against Ecuador in Quito - a city in which they haven't won a competitive match in 16 years.

"I am very confident that if we play with the conviction with which we did it today we will be in the World Cup", he said.

The single point garnered leaves Argentina wallowing down in sixth place in what is proving to be an incredibly tight CONMEBOL qualification pool.

The Copa America champions now occupy third spot in the table, but face a trip to leaders Brazil, still needing something from their final game to be sure of making it to Russian Federation.

Once again they struggled to turn a wealth of possession - 66 per cent - into goals despite 22 shots.

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If they do lose, a win for Argentina away to Ecuador or for Paraguay at home to Venezuela would knock Peru out of contention.

Paraguay, with the worst goal differential, face arguably the easiest final match, at home to last-placed Venezuela. To ensure they have a chance they really need to win their last game in Ecuador, which is easier said than done. The fifth-place team can advance by winning a two-leg playoff with New Zealand.

Chile must play Brazil and if Chile is defeated and Argentina and Colombia beats Peru, Argentina could automatically qualify.

Chile go away to Brazil, so a win would see Argentina over take Sanchez's side should they fail to beat the table-toppers.

Next week, Argentina will need help from Colombia who will play Peru.

"It was a very stressful occasion, whereas the finals I played in Mexico and Italy were very happy occasions because you knew you were close to achieving something great", added Burruchaga.

Fernando Gago was introduced at the expense of Ever Benega on the hour mark but the Boca Juniors midfielder lasted just six minutes before being forced off with a knee injury.