At that stage, the last three of the four automatic qualifiers will be found, as well as the fifth-placed team, who will face the All Whites in a two-legged playoff next month.
That's the bad news for the Albiceleste.
From South America qualification, team Brazil is in top position with 38 points.
Argentina and Messi have been unlucky in recent matches, in which they have drawn three times.
The visitors have a poor record on the road against Ecuador but need a victory to sustain their ambitions of a trip to Russian Federation next summer or at least better the results of Chile, Colombia and Peru.
Argentina can simplify the equation for their nervous fans, however, if they manage to take all three points in Quito on Tuesday. A win for La Blanquirroja will guarantee them a play-off place, and should that result be accompanied by draws or defeats for Chile or Argentina, then they will go straight through.
The Manchester United legend missed out on the 1994 World Cup in the United States after France lost at home to Bulgaria in their final qualifying match, when a draw would have sufficed.
Argentina will be without injured midfielder Fernando Gago for the game.
Argentina are considered one of the best teams in the world.
- A from that "draw" could see Argetina move above Chile and Colombia - as long as both the teams lose by a two-goal margin. Quito sits 2850 metres above sea level, resulting in a reduced oxygen supply and generally challenging conditions for football.
Ecuador will be desperate to spoil the party on Tuesday night, and Argentina will need a huge slice of luck as they look at results from other games to aid their quest. A draw would only be good enough for fifth if accompanied by heavy defeats for Peru and Argentina, and a defeat would leave them with no chance at all.
The once unfathomable prospect of a World Cup without Lionel Messi and Argentina could become reality tomorrow morning as South America's thrilling 2018 qualification battle reaches its climax.
In that respect, Messi is always compared unfavourably to his compatriot Diego Maradona, who inspired Argentina to triumph in the 1986 Finals in Mexico; unless Messi equals that achievement, according to many people, he will never be as good as Maradona.
"Messi is extraordinary but he is yet to win a World Cup", Infantino told the newspaper La Nacion.
There is no but.
ARGENTINA have been choking under pressure for years, they have failed to score from open play in their last five qualifiers and they are playing at altitude, where they traditionally struggle.
But all eyes will be on Quito to see whether Russian Federation 2018 will be a World Cup that is played without one of the world's most glamorous teams and one of the sport's best players.
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