South American group is a breath of fresh air
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.