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Pressure on Lionel Messi to deliver for Argentina in World Cup qualifying

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The nation’s World Cup hopes are in the balance

Brasil Global Tour - Brazil v Argentina Photo by Darrian Traynor/Getty Images for ICC

Lionel Messi has been in red-hot form for Barcelona so far this season. We may only be seven games in but the little genius has already shown again how utterly brilliant he is.

With 11 goals in seven La Liga games, he’s made his best start to a season in Spain ever, he’s also outscored most of the teams in the division too. Not bad going.

Messi’s brilliance is one of the main reasons Barcelona are yet to be defeated in either La Liga or the Champions League this season.

FC Barcelona v Juventus - UEFA Champions League Photo by Alex Caparros/Getty Images

And now Argentina need him to continue that form as they face a couple of crunch World Cup qualifiers.

First up are Peru in Buenos Aires before a final game in Ecuador in the notorious high altitude of Quito.

Going into the games Argentina are in fifth, which means a play-off spot against New Zealand.

The problem is that Peru, are one place ahead of them in the standings and are on a strong run of form having won their last three games.

Meanwhile, Argentina have struggled throughout qualifying, they have already been beaten four times and drawn six.

Brazil Global Tour - Brazil v Argentina Photo by Robert Cianflone/Getty Images

Despite the vast array of attacking riches on offer, think Sergio Aguero, Gonzalo Higuain, Angel Di Maria, Paulo Dybala and Maurco Icardi, they have managed just 16 goals in 16 games - only Bolivia have scored less.

Qualification is therefore far from certain, particularly with Chile just one point behind them. They face Ecuador and Brazil but will be without star man Alexis Sanchez for the first game due to suspension.

Argentina should have enough to get over the line, even if they are sent into a play-off, but they are not a side in form having won just two of their last nine qualifiers.

Messi, however, is and Argentina will need him to reproduce the quality he has shown at Barcelona this season, otherwise World Cup 2018 will be missing the world’s best player.