Argentina record against Ecuador
Argentina have struggled in this year’s CONMEBOL World Cup qualifiers and only a win will secure fifth place and advance to a play-off against New Zealand.
But they face an uphill task to do so away at Ecuador.
La Albiceleste have won just two of six World Cup qualifiers against tonight’s opposition and just once since the format was changed in 1996.
Lionel Messi was just 14 years old when Argentina last won at the Estadio Olimpico, with Hernan Crespo and Sebastian Veron scoring the only goals of the match.
The only other time Argentina have won a World Cup qualifier in Ecuador came in 1960.
Argentina were the World Cup runners-up in 2014 to Germany and they face an unwanted record should they fail to qualify for next year’s tournament.
They could become the first team not to qualify for the World Cup after reaching the final of the previous tournament since Czechoslovakia missed out in 1966.
While Messi has been in scintillating form for Barcelona this campaign, the same can’t be said for his country.
The five-time Ballon d’Or winner has failed to score in each of Argentina’s last three World Cup qualifiers.
Argentina drew those games against Uruguay, Venezuela and Peru 0-0, 1-1 and 0-0 respectively.
Dybala and Messi conundrum?
Jorge Sampaoli has said it is too risky to pair Messi with Paolo Dybala, despite Argentina’s precarious position.
Dybala has been one of the in-form strikers in world football, scoring 10 goals in seven Serie A appearances.
But the Juventus striker was an unused substitute against Peru and has been named on the bench against Ecuador.
“As there is no time to work the Dybala-Messi relationship, we should go to something more concrete,” said Sampaoli.