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World Cup qualifying woes for Argentina after ban for Messi

World Cup qualifying started badly for Argentina, and now it's getting a whole lot worse.

Argentina sits fifth in South American qualifying, the same position it occupied two matches ago. But a closer look at the team's performance, especially without its banned star Lionel Messi, reveals that the country's campaign for the 2018 tournament in Russia could be in jeopardy.

Tuesday's 2-0 defeat in Bolivia, combined with other results from the 14th round of matches, has left the 2014 finalists in a continental playoff position - against a team from Oceania. However, the two goals scored against Edgardo Bauza's side in La Paz pale in comparison to the setback delivered by FIFA just hours before kickoff, with the four-match ban handed out to Messi.