Ecuador
1

Argentina
3

Football

ByTheMinHipster

Good evening football fans. There really could be a World Cup without Argentina. Without Javier Mascherano. Without Angel Di Maria. Without Lionel Messi. The unthinkable could become reality in a few hours time. Or they could make it through safely. Tonight is a BIG night. Welcome to Ecuador vs Argentina with me, Roddy Graham. As always with me...CUE THE MUSIC!

The team news is already in. No real surprises. It's going to be a very interesting night. Ecuador (4-5-1): Banguera; Velasco, Aimar, Arboleda, Ramirez; Intriago, Orejuela, Romario Ibarra, Cevallos, Renato Ibarra; Ordonez. Argentina (3-4-2-1) Romero; Mercado, Mascherano, Otamendi; Salvio, Enzo Perez, Biglia, Acuna; Messi, Di Maria; Benedetto.

What's the story? Where to begin. As it stands, Argentina won't be at next year's World Cup. The top 4 South American teams in qualifying get an automatic spot. 5th goes into an intercontinental playoff. 6th goes out. Argentina are 6th. They face an Ecuador side they haven't beaten since 2001. That win was their last since 1960. Lose tonight means no World Cup for the first time since 1970.

But there's still a chance for Messi and co? Oh aye. A win tonight guarantees at least a playoff place - and a likely top 4 spot too. But qualifying in South America is tight. Like unbelievably tight. 4 points separate 2nd from 7th. 2 points between 3rd and 7th. 1 point between 3rd and 6th. Crazy doesn't do this justice.

Tonight 5 games are being played in South America. All 5 kick off in 25 minutes time. You excited? If not, I'll suggest football isn't for you. Those games are... Uruguay v Bolivia Brazil v Chile Paraguay v Venezuela Peru v Colombia Ecuador v Argentina And yes, all 5 games will affect the final positions and qualifiers from South America. Yet some say international football is dull...

My eyes will be largely fixed on events in Ecuador but I'll strive to keep you up to date around the other games. It could be a really fun few hours. Or it could be a technological nightmare. Stay tuned to find out! Kick off in Quito is in approximately 22 minutes. GULP!

I've managed to load up an Argentinian stream for this tonight. Have a feeling my ears are going to be blown off if they win this and we hear the trademark "gooooooooooooaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaalllllllllllllllllllllllll" chant from the telly commentators.

On Argentina TV they are at a U2 gig in Buenos Aires which has been delayed so fans can watch this game. Even Bono can do good things in 2017. Whodathunkit!

This is about as hard a game for Argentina as it comes. The pitch is just the 10,000 feet above sea level and there were some stories earlier that there was flooding on the turf. Nice weather for Messi to strut his stuff, eh?

For some reason which I cannot quite understand, Hristov Stoichkov is being interviewed under some spotlights in the tv studio ahead of this one. Not a scooby. But what a player.