Argentina 'deserve' to go to Russian Federation, says Sampaoli

Australia who have the in-form Aaron Mooy have qualified for three World Cups in a row

Argentina faces Ecuador in the thin air of Quito, located at 2,850 meters (9,350 feet) in the Andes — always a trial for visiting teams.

Brazil flirted with disaster before securing their place in the 2002 World Cup - which, of course, they won.

Alger commented that: "We feel most punters will have forgotten the qualifying process by the time the tournament is near approaching and still be backing Argentina because of the Messi factor regardless of their current struggles".

Argentina's forward Lionel Messi (R) gestures next his teammate forward Dario Benedetto during their 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifier football match against Peru, at La Bombonera stadium, in Buenos Aires, on October 5, 2017.

Ecuador have lost their last five qualifiers, with a place at Russian Federation already out of reach for them, but the side have not been beaten by Argentina in Quito since 2001.

At the moment, Colombia sit on 26 points with Peru on 25 points, while Argentina's 25 points but worse goals scored statistic sees them sit in sixth, where they would miss out on a play-off spot against the winners of Oceania: New Zealand.

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Meanwhile, Brazil striker Gabriel Jesus insisted that they will play to beat Chile, which will boost Argentina's chances of qualification.

Here's a look at how Argentina can qualify for the 2018 showpiece event.

An anxious nation held it's collective breath on Tuesday as Lionel Messi's Argentina prepared for a do-or-die World Cup qualifier in the thin air of high-altitude Ecuadorian capital Quito. They clinched back in March and cruised through qualifying, racking up a plus-27 goal differential (the next best goal differential is Uruguay at plus-10).

Third on 26 points, Chile need to buck a losing trend away to the already-qualified Brazil, where they have lost five qualifying matches out of five. Their only absentee is the injured Fernando Gago.

According to press reports, the under-fire coach will make two changes to the side that drew 0-0 with Peru, but big names such as Paulo Dybala and Mauro Icardi are still out of the first XI.

Argentina now sits in sixth place on 25 points. The only way for Uruguay to fall to fifth is: it loses to Bolivia, plus Chile, Colombia and Argentina all win — and Argentina scores at least nine goals to overtake Uruguay on goal difference. Peru also have a chance even if they draw or lose.

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