Messi can save Argentina from World Cup qualifying failure – Menotti

Last updated
Getty Images
The Albiceleste's first World Cup-winning coach putting his faith in the team's biggest star ahead of the decisive showdown in Ecuador

Lionel Messi can be Argentina's saviour in their crucial World Cup qualifier against Ecuador, according to former coach Cesar Luis Menotti.

Jorge Sampaoli's side head into their final match in the South American section with their chances of reaching next year's finals in Russia hanging in the balance.

Argentina 4/11 to beat Ecuador

A win would guarantee at least a place in next month's intercontinental play-off, while it would be enough to claim an automatic spot if Peru beat Colombia or if that match ends in a draw.

Ecuador have lost their last five qualifiers and are already out of contention for the top five, but Argentina, who have drawn three games in a row and scored only one goal in that time, have not won in Quito since 2001.

However, Menotti, who guided Argentina to their first World Cup triumph in 1978, believes Messi can be the man to make the difference on Tuesday.

"To have Messi in the team is to have someone who can save you," he told TyC Sports.

"It's not ideal that it works like that, but it's how it is.

"Having Messi is a bonus that can save you at any moment. Football is about order, but also adventure.

"It would be frustrating for the other guys not to see Messi at the World Cup, not only for himself.

"Seeing Messi at the World Cup with the national team has become something cultural. Leo has magic, like [Diego] Maradona."

Article continues below

Argentina have only won six matches in a turbulent campaign in which Sampaoli replaced Edgardo Bauza as coach in a bid to revitalise their fortunes.

Menotti says there is no point trying to assess what went wrong until after the Ecuador game, though.

"The team are obliged to qualify," he said. "There's no time left to understand the things that have gone badly."

Next article:
Xavi: Qatar has a football culture
Next article:
Allegri reiterates plan to rest 'great professional' Ronaldo
Next article:
Henderson: Liverpool ready to win trophies
Next article:
Courtois: Simeone criticises Real Madrid to boost popularity
Next article:
'He has a lot of qualities' - Hasenhuttl wary of Aubameyang threat