South Amer­i­can group is a breath of fresh air

The Sunday Telegraph - Sport - - Football -

The pres­ence of the world’s great­est foot­baller at next sum­mer’s World Cup fi­nal rests, to some ex­tent, on how Lionel Messi (pic­tured left) and his Ar­gentina team-mates cope with the high-al­ti­tude con­di­tions of Quito when they face Ecuador there on Tues­day in their fi­nal qual­i­fier. The Brazil play­ers who drew with Bo­livia on Thurs­day posed for a strik­ing pic­ture af­ter the game in La Paz with oxy­gen masks on their faces.

No team in that group, in­clud­ing Brazil, are un­beaten and Ar­gentina are scrap­ping for their lives. It would be a real pity not to see Messi at 30 years old in the last World Cup of his prime years, but that is foot­ball – there are no al­lowances made for any­one. As for South Amer­i­can qual­i­fy­ing, its com­pet­i­tive­ness and its chal­lenges cer­tainly beat some of the for­get­table stuff we have to sit through in Europe.

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