The footballing world can sleep easy; Lionel Messi will be in Russia, and the Argentine may be the only person who is allowed to enter the country without a thousand Russian security checks; football fans need the magician for the sanity of the game at this tournament.
Messi’s brilliant hat-trick in Argentina’s 3-1 win over Ecuador booked La Albiceleste’s place this coming summer, and head coach, Jorge Sampaoli, just about summed up everyone’s thoughts on the Barca man:
“Luckily the nationality of the best player in the world is Argentinian,”
‘We must be sure everything does not depend on Leo but today he brought his great ability.
‘I told the group: Messi did not owe the World Cup to Argentina, but football owed the World Cup to Messi. We should help him be in the World Cup.”
Argentina coach, Jorge Sampaoli.
Messi hadn’t scored a single away goal in qualifying, but single handily blew Ecuador away with a world-class chip which rounded off his hat-trick.
It’s Lionel Messi’s world. we just live in it. ???pic.twitter.com/j6FS7Vf0Bk
— Marathonbet (@marathonbet) October 11, 2017
Elsewhere in South America, Alexis Sanchez won’t be needing to apply for his Russian visa as Chile will be staying at home next summer; the back-to-back Copa America champions lost 3-0 to Brazil which saw them finish in sixth place – two points behind Argentina.
Despite finishing level on points with Peru, Chile’s weaker goal difference means they miss out on the play-off spot – Peru will face New Zealand over two legs for a place in Russia. Chile’s failure to qualify saw head coach Juan Antonio Pizzi step down from his position as the likes of Sanchez, Arturo Vidal and Eduardo Vargas will all be missing from the summer’s tournament.
Despite the quality of these Chileans, every football fan would still pick Messi to grace the stage in Russia, as the football world rejoiced last night that the greatest player on the planet will be at the greatest tournament on the planet.