Argentina legend Juan Roman Riquelme says La Albiceleste are reliant on Lionel Messi, claiming "any team can beat" them when the Barcelona star doesn't play.
Argentina have won all three of the World Cup qualifiers in which Messi has played, but just one in seven without the 29-year-old.
It has left Edgardo Bauza’s side sixth – outside of the inter-confederation playoff position – in the South American standings, level with Chile and one point clear of Paraguay, ahead of the crucial matches against Brazil and Colombia.
"Let’s hope Messi doesn’t get injured," Riquelme told FIFA.com. "Because if he does, any team can beat Argentina. We have the best player in the world. It’s logical that when Messi plays, we’re a strong team, and when he doesn’t, we’re average.
"I said that the day that Messi gets injured, we’ll go to being an average team, and they said I was speaking negatively. But when he gets injured and we don’t get points, we beg him to come back.
"It’s always him. We have faith in him. He’s unique. He’s taken us to several finals, which is not easy."
Former Barcelona playmaker Riquelme is wary of the threat posed by Messi's current teammate Neymar, when Argentina play in Rio de Janeiro on November 10, however.
"Now we have a good opportunity to beat Brazil and gain confidence," he added. But we’ll suffer there too, because over 90 minutes Neymar will do something, just like Messi.”