Argentina are getting perilously close to missing out on the 2018 World Cup after a drab 0-0 draw with Peru on Thursday evening left their qualification hopes dangling by a gossamer thread.
Fifth-placed Peru are at home to fourth-placed Colombia, and should Argentina fail to win, Messi and co. will be depending on the result of that game to decide their fate.
The final game of Conmebol qualifying is played on Wednesday NZ time, with the fifth place side playing New Zealand in November for a solitary place at the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russian Federation.
Peru, who are in the fifth and final qualification place, will host Colombia in Lima.
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.
Thankfully for Argentina, the dream isn't over yet, Paraguay's surprise win away to Colombia meaning that Messi's side could still realistically finish as high as third after the final round of games next week.
"I am still confident that we will be at the World Cup", he said following yesterday's match, reports Goal.com.
Or have they left it too late?
Since both teams play each other, only one of them can get all three points.
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It is a game they really must win if they are to stand any realistic chance of qualifying for next summer's World Cup.
Argentina should have gone ahead in first half stoppage time when Messi lifted a looping cross into the box but striker Dario Benedetto headed the ball over the bar.
Argentina have it all to do in their final match, against Ecuador.
Known for not dealing well with the thin air, Argentina have failed to win a World Cup qualifier in the Ecuadorian capital on their past three visits - registering two defeats and a draw.
Argentina should arguably have already finished up qualification as Brazil have, yet they now find themselves needing to beat Peru.
Even a sell-out home crowd in Buenos Aires' La Bombonera was not enough to rally Messi's side, who slipped further from qualifying places.
Lionel Messi of Argentina and Renato Tapia of Peru in action.
If Argentina draw, things get even more complicated.
"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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