Argentina have a crucial set of matches to play in the FIFA World Cup qualifiers over the next few weeks and may well have to do without their talismanic captain Lionel Messi as they navigate a few tricky encounters this month.
Argentina might also have to do without Inter Milan striker Lautaro Martinez as they face difficult tests against Paraguay and Peru in the coming weeks. The international break has witnessed several high-profile injuries in the past and both Lionel Messi and Lautaro Martinez will be wary of aggravating their fitness concerns with their national team.
The FIFA World Cup qualifiers that are contested among the CONMEBOL nations generally see fierce battles on pitches that can potentially pose problems for some of the best teams in the world. Argentina suffered in their qualifying campaign for the 2018 World Cup and will have learnt several harsh lessons about their South American counterparts over the past few years.
Lionel Messi, in particular, has already played plenty of football this season and his injury issues may see him benched against Paraguay this week. Argentina have revamped their set-up under Lionel Scaloni and could also decide to use Lionel Messi as a super-substitute in these World Cup qualifiers.
Lionel Messi trains separately as Argentina ponder over starting eleven against Paraguay
Argentina face a difficult test against Paraguay on Thursday and have plenty of work to do to maintain their perfect record in the FIFA World Cup qualifiers. The South American giants won hard-fought battles against Ecuador and Bolivia last month and will face a similar challenge in this game.
Lionel Messi has been an important part of Argentina's campaign so far and has taken up a creative role in the team, with the likes of Lautaro Martinez and Joaquin Correa sharing the goalscoring burden with their captain.
Barcelona manager Ronald Koeman decided to keep Lionel Messi on the bench against Real Betis over the weekend, however, and the media has been rife with speculation about a potential injury. The Argentina captain has trained separately from the rest of the national team this week and remains doubtful for his side's match against Paraguay.
Lionel Messi has often received criticism for his lack of success with Argentina and has a point to prove over the next two years. The Barcelona talisman has several talented players around him in the national team at the moment and will be looking forward to winning silverware with Argentina.
Lautaro Martinez has been a revelation for Argentina over the past few years but is also nursing an injury at the moment and is unlikely to feature in the starting eleven against Paraguay. Ajax full-back Nicolas Tagliafico is also a doubt for the game this week.
Argentina have built a young squad under Lionel Scaloni and the likes of Lucas Ocampos and Joaquin Correa will have to step up to the plate to guide the side to a victory in the absence of Lionel Messi and Lautaro Martinez.
Lionel Messi is likely to play a part in Argentina's World Cup qualifier against Peru next week. The Barcelona captain has a hectic schedule ahead of him this year, however, and will likely be rested for the game this week.
Published 11 Nov 2020, 14:06 IST