Published: Tue, October 10, 2017
Worldwide | By Isabel Fisher

What has Lionel Messi won for Argentina?

What has Lionel Messi won for Argentina?

Valencia hero Mario Kempes has jumped to the defence of Barcelona star Lionel Messi.

Argentina are in a dicey position as they have yet to secure a place in next summer's World Cup finals, heading into their final qualifying match having drawn their last three games and scoring only one goal in the process.

Argentina must win their final qualifier in Ecuador to claim at least fifth spot, which sets up a two-leg play-off against New Zealand.

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"A World Cup without Argentina and Messi would be a catastrophe", Kempes told Super Deportivo Radio de Santa Fe.

"If we are at Messi's level, the match will go very well".

With just 16 goals to their name throughout their qualifying campaign, The Independent's Miguel Delaney has flagged up an alarming statistic on Twitter which points out La Albiceleste have had an astonishing 73 shots since their last goal in qualifying, and no one other than Lionel Messi has scored in nearly a year.

Chile's World Cup fate will also be decided on Tuesday and final match day for Russian Federation 2018.

Kempes also rubbished the idea of a mental problem within the squad.

"I don't understand it when it's said that the problem is psychological", he added.

The former Sevilla boss, who will be without injured midfielder Fernando Gago, said after seeing his side held to a goalless draw at home by Peru: 'It's an uncomfortable situation, but qualification still depends on us.

'The team is angry but thinking that if they win in Ecuador, they will qualify.

They need a win to have a chance of securing one of the four automatic qualification spots for next summer's tournament in Russian Federation.

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