Why Messi and Alexis Sanchez could miss the World Cup

International Edition By: Ambrose Udeme | 03/10/2017

Lionel Messi with Alexis

Argentina skipper Lionel Messi and Chile's Alexis Sanchez are in danger of missing the 2018 World Cup as both stars face defining World Cup Qualifiers over the next one week.

Their fixtures in the next seven days will determine whether the Barca man Messi and Arsenal's contract rebel Sanchez will feature for their respective countries at next summer's tournament in Russia.

Argentina who are fifth in the CONMEBOL standings are home to fourth-placed Peru in Buenos Aires on October 6, before a tricky-looking final game in Ecuador five days later.

Sanchez and his troops who are on place behind Argentina take on eighth-placed Ecuador in Santiago on Friday and Juan Antonio Pizzi's side then complete their qualifying campaign with a daunting trip to already-qualified Neymar's Brazil on October 11.

Given their recent patchy form, neither the 2014 World Cup finalists nor the reigning Copa America champions will be confident of competing at the global showpiece event.

Only the top four teams in the group automatically make it to Russia 2018, with the side in fifth facing a two-legged play-off against Oceania winners New Zealand in November.

The worry for Argentina, however, is their next opponents have won their last three matches in a row, a run that has seen in-form Peru move into the fourth and final automatic qualifying position for next summer's finals.

Not only that, but Argentina then face a final-day visit to Ecuador who, despite losing at home to Peru last time out, possess an intimidating record in Quito. And the Albiceleste have also tended to struggle when playing at altitude, with La Tri's ground in the capital situated 9,127 feet above sea level.