RIO DE JANEIRO — Argentina and Lionel Messi are on the verge of missing the World Cup for the first time since 1970 after stumbling to a 0-0 draw against Peru before a capacity crowd in Buenos Aires on Thursday.
Only one round of qualifying remains in South America.
Argentina, the runner-up to Germany in the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, plays on Tuesday against Ecuador in the thin air of Quito in the Andes. Argentina is in sixth place, with the top four teams advancing automatically. The fifth-place team can advance by winning a playoff against New Zealand.
Brazil has already qualified, and played to a 0-0 tie against Bolivia on Thursday. Brazil has 38 points, followed by Uruguay (28), Chile (26), Colombia (26), Peru (25), Argentina (25) and Paraguay (24).
Ecuador, Venezuela and Bolivia have been eliminated.
It’s an extremely tight race, but Uruguay is expected to clinch qualification on Tuesday. After that, four teams are chasing the two automatic spots.
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