Messi to travel with Argentina but uncertain for game against Bolivia in World Cup qualifying

Argentina's Lionel Messi, runs with the ball during a qualifying soccer match against Ecuador for the FIFA World Cup 2026, at Monumental stadium in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Thursday, Sept. 7, 2023. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)

BUENOS AIRES (AP) — Lionel Messi will travel with the Argentina squad to Bolivia for its South American World Cup qualifier on Tuesday, but his presence on the field remains uncertain.

Argentina coach Lionel Scaloni said he hopes to make a decision on Monday over whether to play the Inter Miami star.

The world champions started their qualifying campaign with a 1-0 victory against Ecuador, thanks to Messi's goal. The 36-year-old Argentina captain scored with a free kick.

Messi was okay to travel, Scaloni said Sunday at a news conference. He did not rule out making a decision about the striker's presence in La Paz on the same day of the match.

“Leo was tired the other day and asked to be substituted," Scaloni said. "But it's not needed that we speak to him before matches. We see as it goes.”

Scaloni said he would like to play the same team that beat Ecuador in Buenos Aires, but changes might be required for Argentina to play more than 3,000 meters above sea level.

Bolivia lost to Brazil 5-1 on Friday in its first match in World Cup qualifying.

The 2026 edition of the World Cup in the United States, Mexico and Canada is expanding to a 48-team format. The leading six positions in South America will secure a direct spot. The seventh-place team will contest an intercontinental playoff for a berth.


AP soccer: