Argentina Lose 2-0 To Bolivia After Barcelona Star Lionel Messi's Ban

Messi was punished for abusing an official after using "insulting words" towards an assistant referee during Thursday's 1-0 win over Chile.

Argentina continued to struggle without their talisman and could not find a way back into the game, meaning it's more missed points for Bauza's team, who will now slip in the qualifying table after rising to third following the win against Chile.

The 29-year-old FC Barcelona player was also fined 10,000 Swiss francs ($10,160) by FIFA's disciplinary panel.

But Uruguay's upset 2-1 defeat by Peru in the day's final South American qualifier, combined with other results, meant Brazil are mathematically guaranteed a place at next year's Finals in Russian Federation.

The team says Martinez, a native of Venezuela, suffered the injury last week when playing for the Venezuelan National Team in the 2018 FIFA World Cup qualification.

"This decision is in line with the FIFA Disciplinary Committee's previous rulings in similar cases", the world soccer body said.

Tuesday's victory sees them lead the 10-team standings by nine points with four games remaining.

Argentina has relied on its captain Messi to move up to third place in a group where the top four qualify for the tournament in Russian Federation.

"I am not the person to discuss a decision of Federation Internationale de Football Association, but it seems an outrage to me that they have given Messi four matches", Pique said - via Goal. "Now they will have to do the same with all the players that hurl insults". We are alive and wanting to qualify for the World Cup.

"We know this is going to be a fight and we will continue fighting".

Pending an appeal, Messi will only be available to play in Argentina's final qualifier, on October 10 against Ecuador.

"We are only thinking about the future", said the coach, who is under growing pressure to step aside after eight matches in charge, which have produced three losses, three wins and two draws.

With or without Messi, all is not lost for a team that has played at every World Cup after the 1970 tournament in Mexico.

And his club are sticking by the four-time World Player of the Year. "He could have played, he travelled to play, he should have played".

  • Julie Sanders