Argentina's World Cup hopes hang in balance after draw with Peru

Sampaoli knows his side have a tough task ahead of him in the next nine days

The latest, at home against Peru on Thursday, left Lionel Messi and company in sixth place in the CONMEBOL table with one game to play. The top four teams qualify automatically for Russian Federation, with the fifth-placed side facing Oceania champions New Zealand in a two-legged playoff in November for another place.

However, with just four points covering second-placed Uruguay to Paraguay in seventh, the race for Russian Federation is set to go down to the wire next week when the final round of qualifiers kick off simultaneously at 12.30am on Wednesday.

In the final round of matches on Tuesday, Uruguay face Bolivia, Peru host Colombia, Ecuador are at home against Argentina, Chile visit Brazil and Paraguay meet Venezuela.

Having never before featured at the World Cup, Syria's hopes were kept alive thanks to Omar Al Somah's 92nd minute equalizer against Iran in the final game of the group stages, which secured third place and a playoff against Australia.

It was all bark but no bite from the home team.

Argentina drew their last two qualifiers under Sampaoli, against Uruguay and Venezuela, while a fifth qualifying defeat could be disastrous. Argentina's last World Cup qualifying win in Quito came in 2001.

As things stand, Brazil, Ururguay, Chile and Colombia occupy the automatic qualification positions, while the draw for Peru leaves them on course for a play-off.

Argentina's fortunes largely rest on how other teams perform next week, when they will meet already-eliminated Ecuador who now sit two places below in the table.

ARGENTINA's 2018 World Cup qualifying hopes hang in the balance as they head into a must-win game against Peru at La Bombonera. They need to play some quality football against Peru at La Bombonera on Thursday.

Is Lionel Messi set to marry childhood sweetheart Antonella Roccuzzo in 2017? If we can't be re, it's really unfair. As a provider, he will feel more than aggrieved that fine passes into Benedetto and Gomez were not converted, but La Pulga was equally guilty in turning onto the post a rebound that nine times out of 10 one would expect him to bury. It looked like another disappointing qualifying campaign for the Peruvians, who juxtapose decent Copa America performances-3rd place in both 2011 and 2015-with failed bids to go to the World Cup.

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