Barcelona ace Lionel Messi could quit Argentina THIS WEEK

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

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

To depend on oneself or not to depend on oneself; that is the question facing the six sides still in contention as the South American qualifying competition for the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™ reaches its conclusion on Tuesday.

While the Ecuador team is experiencing a period of transition, they retain one crucial advantage: the altitude.

To put it simply, Uruguay only needs a draw at home to Bolivia, which has lost nine of 10 qualifiers in Montevideo, to ensure its spot in Russian Federation next summer, however even a loss isn't likely to bump them from the competition.

While Argentina are riding a four-game winless streak, Ecuador have lost their past five qualifying matches.

In South America, the top-four countries in the 10-team round robin league qualify for Russian Federation automatically, with the fifth-place team entering the intercontinental playoffs to play New Zealand.

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As things stand, those two matches would take place in Wellington on November 8 with the return in Buenos Aires on November 15.

Argentina coach Jorge Sampaoli is set to take a last, desperate gamble in their do-or-die mission against Ecuador.

But Argentina has struggled to score in qualifying.

The phrase 'must-win-match' is often used premiscuously.

The visitors will hope the hosts will be disinterested in a tie that means nothing to them in technical terms, but Ecuador will not lie down with the opportunity to embarrass and humble Argentina.

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Furthermore, Jorge Sampaoli's side are now 10/1 outsiders to go one step further in Russian Federation next Summer, then they did at Brazil in 2014, where they suffered an excruciating extra time final defeat at the hands of Mario Götze and Germany.

When asked about the prospect of Messi missing the World Cup, Jesus replied: "Messi is one of the game's greatest-ever players but we are just thinking about ourselves".

Despite having Lionel Messi spearheading Argentina's bristling attacking talents, Argentina have found it hard to score goals during matches. A loss to Brazil would see Chile passed by either Colombia or Peru, likely Argentina and possibly Paraguay if it beats last-place Venezuela at home. Chile, Colombia and Peru are at third, fourth and fifth place respectively.

Ecuador only have pride to play for but are always a tough opponent at home.

Their last win came during the 2002 World Cup Qualifiers. Old enemies Brazil could do Chile a favour in Sao Paulo and send them into that play-off with New Zealand.

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