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 By Tim Vickery

Argentina gain vital win vs. Chile but next lies a visit to Bolivia at altitude

Chile manager Juan Antonio Pizzi is proud of his team despite the defeat to Argentina.

It was thoroughly unconvincing and not really deserved, but Argentina's 1-0 win over Chile on Thursday was a result of massive importance. Come the end of the World Cup qualifying campaign it could mark the difference between a place in Russia and watching on TV.

Further, it took place in a context where nothing seemed to be going right for the Argentines, starting with events further north in South America.

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ChileChile
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Bolivia chose not to take some of their best players to Colombia, opting instead to save...

ESPN FC  By ESPN staff

Lionel Messi court date three days prior to Barcelona-Real Madrid Clasico

Lionel Messi court
Lionel Messi has appealed a tax fraud sentence handed down by a Barcelona court.

Spain's supreme court scheduled a hearing for the appeal of Barcelona star Lionel Messi and his father against a 21-month prison sentence for tax fraud on April 20, three days before the Catalan club are to play Real Madrid in the Clasico, Spain media reports.

The five-time World Player of the Year and his father, Jorge Messi, were handed a 21-month suspended sentence by a court in Barcelona on July 6 after being found guilty of three counts of tax fraud. 

Prosecutors maintained that Messi...

ESPN FC  By ESPN staff

Argentina are not Lionel 'Messi-dependent' - Edgardo Bauza

Argentina pushed Chile out of the top five in CONMEBOL World Cup qualifying thanks to a Lionel Messi penalty kick.
Messi celeb vs Chile 170323
Lionel Messi converted a penalty for Argentina's win over Chile.

Argentina coach Edgardo Bauza deemed the Albiceleste free of "Messi-dependence" in their 1-0 victory on Thursday against Chile in 2018 World Cup qualifying, even as the Barcelona star scored the match's only goal.

Messi converted a penalty as Argentina rose to third in the CONMEBOL table with the win over defending Copa America champions Chile in Buenos Aires.

Argentina took the lead when Brazilian referee Sandro Ricci ruled that Jose Fuenzalida had pushed Angel Di Maria within the goal...

ESPN FC  By ESPN staff

Police in Peru seize $85m cocaine haul bearing photos of Lionel Messi

Peru law enforcement on Wednesday seized 1,417 kilos of cocaine, much of it adorned with logos that bear the photo and name of Barcelona star Lionel Messi. The haul was found wrapped in containers of squid fillets and destined for Belgium.

The drugs were worth an estimated $85 million in street value, Peru officials said in a news release

Many packages of the drugs bore Messi's likeness and name, while the rest was wrapped in black packaging with a logo saying "King" with a likeness of the...

Chile will try to end Argentina's recent recovery in World Cup qualifiers

Lionel Messi's absences have hurt Argentina in this World Cup qualifying cycle.

Chile will try to end Argentina's recent recovery in 2018 World Cup qualifying when the teams meet Thursday night in Buenos Aires.

Argentina have won just once in their last five qualifiers, having defeated Colombia 3-0 at home in the most recent round in November.

Chile, meanwhile, are unbeaten in their last five games, with a win over Iceland in China in January as well as victories against Peru and Uruguay.

FiveThirtyEight's Soccer Power Index (SPI) gives host Argentina a 62 percent chance of a victory.

Argentina have struggled in the competition without Lionel Messi, who has played in just...

'No doubt' Lionel Messi, Andres Iniesta will stay at Barcelona - Fernandez

Lionel Messi scored twice as Barcelona took advantage of the extra man to best Valencia at Camp Nou.

Barcelona sporting director Robert Fernandez is convinced Lionel Messi and Andres Iniesta will sign new deals in the coming months, but doesn't expect the club to be busy in the transfer market this summer.

Both Messi and Iniesta are out of contract in less than 18 months, and the fact they have not penned new deals yet has led to some doubts over their futures.

The Premier League's biggest sides have been regularly linked as possible destinations for Messi should he leave, while Iniesta suggested...