Lionel Messi and Argentina staring down the barrel of not qualifying for the World Cup after costly Venezuela draw (VIDEO)

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Despite the drab display against Uruguay last Thursday, a point from the trip to Montevideo’s imposing Estadio Centenario wasn’t the worst result for Argentina. However, back in Buenos Aires on Tuesday against a Venezuela side, rooted to the foot of South American qualification without a chance of reaching Russia, nothing less than a convincing three points were expected of Jorge Sampaoli’s side.

The stage was certainly set for Argentina to get their floundering qualification back on track. By the time proceedings got underway in the Monumental, Chile had lost away to Bolivia, Colombia had drawn with Brazil and Peru had beaten Ecuador, meaning despite La Albiceleste starting the game in sixth, a win could have seen them as high as second.

Sampaoli was sticking with his attacking three-man defence, the exhilarating trio of Lionel Messi, Paulo Dybala and Mauro Icardi were getting another outing and Argentina were supposed to take a giant step towards Russia. The reality however, is that Argentina are now no closer to that goal and only have two increasingly difficult looking matches to confirm their place at the World Cup.

To read the rest of this article, click here to visit The Independent sport page….

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