2018 World Cup Without Ronaldo & Messi?
2018 FIFA World Cup Without Cristiano Ronaldo & Lionel Messi?
A FIFA World Cup without Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi seems unthinkable, but it could really happen in 2018.
The Portuguese and his Argentine counterpart still have work to do in their national teams' final two qualifiers for the showpiece in Russia.
Portugal currently sit in second spot in their World Cup qualification group, three points behind leaders Switzerland, who still have a 100% record.
While the Swiss have won all of their 2018 qualifiers, including the first contest with Ronaldo's side 2-0, Portugal have won seven of their eight matches.
Both nations will meet again on the final qualification matchday on 10 October, when Portugal will need to beat Switzerland in order to avoid having to play a World Cup playoff fixture.
Although the 2016 UEFA European Championship winners qualified for the past two World Cups via the playoff route, they would probably much rather book their ticket via the direct route to minimise the risk of missing out.
Messi's Argentina, meanwhile, are fifth in the South American qualification table. They are tied with fourth-placed Peru on 24 points, but just one ahead of six-placed Chile.
The Albiceleste face Peru in a direct contest on Friday, before travelling to Ecuador for their final World Cup qualifier.
Two wins would definitely secure Messi's World Cup ticket, but anything less could see them drop out of the five qualifying spots – the fifth-placed South American team will face the winner of the Oceania qualification group, New Zealand, in an inter-continental playoff.
For a more in-depth overview, also on the African World Cup qualification groups, buy this week's Soccer Laduma and read our preview on the international pages.
Can you imagine the 2018 World Cup in Russia without Messi and Ronaldo? Have your say in the comments section below.