GENEVA (AP) – Argentina captain Lionel Messi has warned his team-mates they could face a backlash from Chile when the two teams meet in a World Cup qualifier Tuesday.
The Albiceleste were convincing 3-0 winners over Uruguay last week and top the South America zone by one point, a position they are hoping to hold on to in their final qualifier of the year.
However, back-to-back defeats have seen Chile sink to fifth in the table, five points behind the leaders, and Messi feels his side should be on alert as a result.
"Chile will be terribly difficult rivals to get past because of the team they have,'' the Barcelona forward said.
"They lost the last game and are forced to win."
Messi is determined to see his team pick up all the points in Santiago, though.
"We would take a very important step (if we win) because all the teams are very close to each other,'' he said.
"If we beat Chile, we would confirm that advantage and make another step in these closely fought qualifiers.
"The supporters in Argentina are happy with the national team because we've been doing our job well.
"Beating Uruguay was an important goal because we know we are facing a tough visit to Chile."
Argentina striker Gonzalo Higuain is a doubt for the match after injuring his hip against Uruguay, while defender Marcos Roja is also struggling with a troublesome right leg.
Chile will be without midfielder Arturo Vidal, who was sent off in the 3-1 defeat to Ecuador, while Pablo Contreras and Osvaldo Gonzalez are also suspended.
Argentina defender Hugo Campagnaro hopes those absences will give his team the edge.
"Chile are different to Uruguay. We'll not play them the same way we did last Friday,'' he said.
"Vidal's absence is crucial. I know him very well from playing in the Italian league. We must think about our own game, but there are weaknesses our opponents have which we must take advantage of."
Chile's players have refused to speak to the media since losing to Ecuador, although reports in the country suggest coach Claudio Borghi will hand in his resignation if they fail to beat Argentina.