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ESPN FC  By ESPN staff

FIFA hands Lionel Messi four-match ban for insults in WCQ vs. Chile

The FC panel assess the four-match ban handed to Lionel Messi by FIFA and question if the punishment fits the crime.
Alejandro Moreno discusses the impact of Lionel Messi's 4-match ban on Argentina's World Cup qualifying campaign.
The FC panel think Argentina have lacked an identity in World Cup qualifying and have yet to fully maximise their potential.
Alejandro Moreno says Argentina's win over Chile in qualifying covered up glaring problems for Edgardo Bauza's side.
Chile manager Juan Antonio Pizzi is proud of his team despite the defeat to Argentina.
Argentina pushed Chile out of the top five in CONMEBOL World Cup qualifying thanks to a Lionel Messi penalty kick.

FIFA dealt a four-match ban to Lionel Messi on Tuesday after ruling that the Argentina forward verbally abused a match official in a World Cup qualifying game against Chile last week.

Messi was dealt the suspension and a fine of 10,000 Swiss francs ($10,160) by FIFA's disciplinary panel. He will miss four of Argentina's remaining five World Cup qualifiers, including the match against Bolivia on Tuesday night. He can return for Argentina's final qualifier, away to Ecuador on Oct. 10.

FIFA said...

Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo plays fewer minutes than Barca trio - report

Steve Nicol says Cristiano Ronaldo needs to understand Zinedine Zidane is looking out for the Real star's best interest
With a brace against Hungary, Janusz Michallik and Sebastian Salazar look at Portugal, and Ronaldo's hopes for WCQ.

The Real Madrid rotation policy that has seen Cristiano Ronaldo rested for spells this season means he has played fewer minutes than Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar, AS newspaper has said.

Portugal captain Ronaldo, who missed just two league games for Real last season, has played 3,022 minutes in 34 games in all competitions. He has started 22 of 27 La Liga games.

AS reported that 32-year-old Ronaldo has played less than each member of Barcelona's attacking trio.

Messi, runner-up to Ronaldo...

Lionel Messi faces FIFA action for insults in World Cup qualifier vs. Chile

The FC panel think Argentina have lacked an identity in World Cup qualifying and have yet to fully maximise their potential.
Alejandro Moreno says Argentina's win over Chile in qualifying covered up glaring problems for Edgardo Bauza's side.
Chile manager Juan Antonio Pizzi is proud of his team despite the defeat to Argentina.
Argentina pushed Chile out of the top five in CONMEBOL World Cup qualifying thanks to a Lionel Messi penalty kick.

ZURICH -- FIFA says it has opened a disciplinary case against Lionel Messi after TV pictures showed the Argentina forward verbally abusing a match official in a World Cup qualifying game against Chile.

FIFA can judge Messi before Tuesday's qualifier in Bolivia and impose a ban if a red card was justified.

A source within the Argentina national team told ESPN Argentina's Diego Monroig that Messi won't play against Bolivia and will be dealt a four-match ban.

The incident was not initially reported...

ESPN FC  By ESPN staff

Sergio Aguero won't start for Argentina vs. Bolivia - Edgardo Bauza

The FC panel think Argentina have lacked an identity in World Cup qualifying and have yet to fully maximise their potential.
The guys respond to your tweets about Antonio Conte, Argentina's issues and a top-four fight for Everton.
Alejandro Moreno says Argentina's win over Chile in qualifying covered up glaring problems for Edgardo Bauza's side.
Chile manager Juan Antonio Pizzi is proud of his team despite the defeat to Argentina.
Argentina pushed Chile out of the top five in CONMEBOL World Cup qualifying thanks to a Lionel Messi penalty kick.

Argentina coach Edgardo Bauza will leave Manchester City striker Sergio Aguero on the bench after making seven changes for Tuesday's World Cup qualifier against Bolivia.

The Argentina federation on Monday announced that captain Lionel Messi will partner with Sao Paulo striker Lucas Pratto in attack. 

Juventus' Gonzalo Higuain, Javier Mascherano, Lucas Biglia and Nicolas Otamendi are all suspended after collecting yellow cards. Full-backs Gabriel Mercado and Emmanuel Mas are both...

ESPN FC  By ESPN staff

Gerard Deulofeu: Early Lionel Messi comparisons were 'detrimental'

With both teams fighting for a Europa League spot, Gab Marcotti explains the importance of AC Milan's win over Fiorentina.
Gerard Deulofeu is currently on loan at AC Milan from Everton.

AC Milan winger Gerard Deulofeu believes early career comparisons with Lionel Messi at Barcelona created too much expectation among the club's supporters.

Deulofeu, on loan at Milan from Everton, came through the youth academy at Barcelona, where he was often compared to Messi.

However, having been tipped to break into the first team at the Camp Nou, he was eventually forced to leave in 2015 in search of regular football.

"In the end, [the comparisons] were more detrimental than beneficial," Deulofeu...

 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.

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