Argentina prepare for World Cup showdown

Argentina’s hopes of appearing at next year’s World Cup come down to Tuesday’s final qualifier away to Ecuador.

Three consecutive draws have left Argentina sixth in the South American standings and needing three points to secure, at the very least, a play-off spot to reach the finals in Russia.

"On this occasion, I'm going to be happy if the team win even if they don't deserve it," said head coach Jorge Sampaoli ahead of the tie in the high-altitude capital of Quito.

"I hope that qualification will be achieved because, beyond the numbers, Argentina deserve it."

Despite their precarious position outside the qualification places, Argentina are level on points with fifth-placed Peru (who occupy the play-off spot), and just one point behind Chile and Colombia, third and fourth respectively, who will qualify automatically as things stand.

That means that Argentina can be sure of a play-off place if they win in Quito, but they could qualify automatically should Brazil, who are already assured of their place, beat Chile at the same time.

"I want the competition to be fair," said Brazil head coach Tite on Monday, responding to suggestions his side will not be motivated to do their archrivals a favour. "That will make us all play well.

"Yesterday, we thanked each other because we are already qualified. I can't imagine what it is like for others. They must be having trouble sleeping. We are going to do what is most important for us, for the dignity of a people."

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