There is rarely a dull moment in Argentine football but even by its own chaotic standards, this week has proved tumultuous and amid all the tough questions being asked, there has never been a more vital time for the correct solutions to be found.
La Albiceleste’s World Cup qualification hangs precariously in the balance after defeat to Bolivia in La Paz and while the loss was perhaps not the greatest surprise given Argentina’s record at such altitude, the four-match suspension to Lionel Messi delivered just hours before kick-off in response to a foul-mouthed rant at a match official in the victory over Chile has left Edgardo Bauza’s squad reeling.
If Argentina’s place in Russia was far from secure prior to Messi’s punishment, it’s certainly more uncertain now, given that with the mercurial captain in the side, La Albiceleste have won five of the six matches played but without, hold a record of just one win, four draws and three defeats.
With four rounds now remaining, Messi is set to miss all but the potentially crucial final match away to Ecuador and although the home matches against Venezuela and Peru should be winnable without the Barcelona star, the next fixture, away to Uruguay is daunting.
A defeat to Uruguay for Messi-less Argentina could, if results go against them, leave La Albiceleste below even the fifth-placed playoff spot and so for valid reason, concern is growing.
With this in mind, when Claudio ‘Chiqui’ Tapia was elected the new president of the AFA on Thursday afternoon, the current plight of the national team was high on the agenda.