Xavi reveals Messi gets 'p****d off' without ball

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The prospect of a World Cup without Lionel Messi edged nearer to reality on Thursday, as Argentina struggled to a 0-0 draw with Peru in Buenos Aires.

Andre Carrillo will hope to return to the Peru starting XI in the early hours of Wednesday morning to try and help his nation reach their first World Cup in 36 years as a remarkable South American qualifying campaign reaches its climax.

With the South American qualifiers being split into one huge league, that Brazil are well top of, the top four qualify automatically and the fifth placed team goes into a play-off, this time against New Zealand.

That will see Brazil, Uruguay, Colombia and Argentina qualify for the group stages while Chile (who will finish fifth thanks to their higher goal difference) will have to qualify via the playoff.

Chile, who are third, go to already-qualified Brazil, while Uruguay, who are all-but assured of their place in Russian Federation because of their vastly superior goal difference, need just a draw at home to already-eliminated Bolivia to guarantee qualification.

Argentina's draw sets up a nail-biting finale next week, with only two points separating third-placed Chile and seventh-placed Paraguay.

Or have they left it too late? It's that same defense that had them down to Venezuela 2-0 both games, only for the offense to rescue them with equalizers in the second half.

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Peru held Argentina to a 2-2 draw in Lima just over a year ago, with Christian Cueva providing the equaliser on an 83rd-minute penalty.

But one area where all media were agreed was that should Argentina miss out, it won't be Messi's fault.

It means Argentina travel to already-eliminated Ecuador on Tuesday needing a win to have any chance of claiming an automatic qualifying place.

Argentina have it all to do in their final match, against Ecuador.

A goalless draw against Peru means Argentina are now 6th in qualifying and face an uphill battle to be in Russian Federation. To make it to the last round and depend on ourselves in a home match to qualify is important. Replacing the unpopular Edgardo Bauza in May, the former Chile coach - heralded as Argentina's savior when he was appointed - has stumbled to three consecutive draws.

"Barcelona and the Argentine national team can not afford to allow 10 minutes to pass in a game without Leo Messi touching the ball", Xavi told Sport.

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