Too risky to play Messi and Dybala together for Argentina – Sampaoli

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With the country's hopes of reaching Russia 2018 on the edge of a knife, the coach will not take risks with the attacking duo

Jorge Sampaoli said it is too risky to pair Lionel Messi and Paulo Dybala together in the starting XI as Argentina fight desperately to qualify for next year's World Cup.

Argentina welcome fourth-placed Peru to Buenos Aires on Thursday, with Sampaoli's men clinging to fifth place in the CONMEBOL standings, which would only be enough for a play-off berth.

Argentina win to nil v Peru 17/20

With so much to play for at La Bombonera, head coach Sampaoli said he is reluctant to name five-time Ballon d'Or winner Messi and Dybala in the same line-up, given their lack of playing time together.

"As there is no time to work the Dybala-Messi relationship, we should go to something more concrete," said Sampaoli, who is convinced Argentina will qualify for the showpiece in Russia.

Dybala, who has starred for Juventus this season with 12 goals in all competitions, previously admitted it was difficult playing with Barcelona icon Messi as the pair occupy similar positions.

Lionel Messi Paulo Dybala Argentina 06062017

On Dybala's comments, Sampaoli added: "I don't see what Dybala said as something bad. He said that he was happy to play with Messi, but he just did not find his place.

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"Leo needs to move in the field normally as he does with his club," Sampaoli continued. "To invent a position or to structure him, that would be crazy.

"When we use the 4-2-3-1 formation, he is even further forward, always near the box. Being away from the box puts our best player far from the scoring positions and that is what he does best in his club.

"It is my job to make him understand that he is vital in the finishing, in the last third of the pitch."

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