It’s been 35 years since Peru’s last appearance at a FIFA World Cup finals, a streak of hurt dating back to the 1982 tournament in Spain. By improbably finishing fifth in CONMEBOL qualifying, ahead of back-to-back Copa America champions Chile and 2014 finalists Ecuador, a home-and-away playoff against Oceania representative New Zealand is the only thing standing in the way of Peru punching their ticket to Russia.
Lionel Messi, with the hopes of a football crazed nation on his shoulders and the studs of a negative Ecuadorian side in his shins, scored an unfathomable hat trick to send Argentina to the World Cup. What else do you want to hear? What else do you want to know?
You know what Kobe Bryant once said: “You shake a tree and a leopard is gonna fall out.” Well, Ecuador shook the tree. Ecuador's Romario Ibarra netted a nifty little goal off a couple of give-and-go headers and La Albiceleste were off to a nightmarish start. Then the leopard fell out.
Lionel Messi is the leopard. Messi went on to score two goals just eight minutes apart (12’ and 20’) to give Argentina life on the last day of this crazy CONMEBOL qualifying campaign.
Messi goal vs Ecuador #1
CONMEBOL is fun, guys. Through 17 games only one team out of 10 — Brazil — has clinched its spot in the 2018 World Cup. Six teams still have a chance for the remaining three automatic qualifying berths, with one more team qualifying for the intercontinental playoff against New Zealand. Five of those teams control their own destiny. On Tuesday, all 10 teams play in five matches kicking off simultaneously with South American World Cup hopes on the line.
Sometimes you need a hero. Yesterday, Peru got one. In a vital qualifying match facing no less than Argentina in Buenos Aires, Pedro Gallese was the hero for his national team and has over 30 million Peruvians dreaming of getting to the World Cup after 32 years.
An already qualified Brazil played to a 0-0 draw with already eliminated Bolivia at the legendary Estadio Hernando Siles in La Paz on Thursday, something of a complete non story. But not when the gregariously self-entitled Neymar is involved!
“For me, the national team is over. I’ve done all I can. It hurts not to be a champion…It was the thing I wanted the most, but I couldn’t get it, so I think it’s over.” These are the words Lionel Messi uttered following Argentina’s Copa America final defeat to Chile, and once again, the significance and truth behind the sentiment rings loud and clear.
In a move that’s been coming for some months, Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay officially announced their bid to host the 2030 World Cup on Wednesday in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Argentina and Uruguay have been indicating a joint bid since July and Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez wore jerseys promoting the bid before recent World Cup qualifiers. Paraguay only recently hitched onto the bid process.
Tomorrow night, Argentina host Peru at La Bombonera in Buenos Aires knowing that victory will send them above the visitors and into CONMEBOL’s automatic qualifying places before their final match away to Ecuador on Tuesday. All eyes will be on Lionel Messi and the ever-improving Paulo Dybala as La Albiceleste attempt to safely navigate an unfathomable disaster, but Argentina’s entire World Cup qualifying campaign shows that nothing will go according to script.
Javier “Chicharito” Hernández and Lionel Messi are both international soccer stars and the all time top scorers for their respective national teams. But how do the two stars compare when we take a direct look at Chicharito vs Messi? Here's an overview of their career stats and highlights from the handful of times they have played head-to-head.