In Depth: Will Lionel Messi win the Ballon d'Or after Argentina heroics?

CONMEBOL World Cup Qualifying

"I told the group "Messi did not owe the World Cup to Argentina, but football owed the World Cup to Messi". Roger Gonzalez of CBS Sports broke down the scenarios, noting the top four teams in CONMEBOL would automatically qualify for Russian Federation 2018 with the fifth-place team set to play New Zealand in a playoff.

Now, the situation is tricky for Argentina, they will need a win to, at least, secure a minimum of fifth place, which will allow them to play a playoff match to get into the main event.

"After this the national team will grow, it will change", Argentina captain Messi promised after Tuesday's 3-1 win against Ecuador.

Argentina needed him and Messi delivered.

" We were calm, we achieved the goal and that is the most important thing".

Turning 31 during next year's World Cup, Messi has one final chance to emulate his idol Diego Maradona by lifting the World Cup.

The Barcelona forward scored his second of the night eight minutes later with a long-range effort and then completed his hat-trick with a fine solo goal on the hour mark.

Sampaoli asserted, "Messi doesn't owe a World Cup to Argentina - football owes a World Cup to Messi". Messi was humble in the wake of his performance while his coach was a little more effusive. "We could not miss going to the World Cup".

Critics have argued the 30-year-old needs to lead his country to tournaments success to better Diego Maradona, who lifted the World Cup in 1986 and was player of the tournament. He added that Messi is the best player in history and it was a team victory playing a brilliant match.

'It was unfair what happened in the World Cup and the two Copa Americas.

While Uruguay and Colombia also ensured their passage to Russia, Chile were knocked out after they lost their game against already-qualified Brazil 3-0.

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