The Argentine national squad has touched down in Bolivia, gearing up for their upcoming 2026 World Cup qualifiers. Notably, players were spotted using mini oxygen tanks, a vital aid for acclimatizing to the high-altitude surroundings.
Bolivia’s national soccer team, known as La Verde, boasts a distinct home advantage that sets them apart from the rest of the world: altitude. Their home matches take place in La Paz, a city situated at an astonishing altitude of nearly 12,000 feet above sea level, making it the highest capital city globally.
Playing any sport at such extreme altitudes presents a formidable challenge. Consequently, teams have historically struggled when facing Bolivia in La Paz, as the thin air can take a toll on athletes’ physical performance.
The Argentina National Team players have arrived with the personal oxygen tubes due to the high altitude in Bolivia. 😬🇧🇴 pic.twitter.com/AUAXyc8CH2
— All About Argentina 🛎🇦🇷 (@AlbicelesteTalk) September 11, 2023
Understandably, the Argentine players have encountered difficulties adjusting to this significant elevation change. Many squad members have been pictured with the mini oxygen tanks, which are essential for maintaining healthy oxygen levels in such demanding conditions.
The intriguing images have sparked discussions among fans on social media, with many expressing curiosity about the unique playing conditions in Bolivia. Comments like “It’s going to be some cardio” and “How are they gonna play? Oxygen tanks break?” have become prominent among Argentine supporters.
Argentina, led by the iconic Lionel Messi, embarked on their journey to defend their crown in the 2026 FIFA World Cup. They started on a strong note with a victory in the initial South American qualifiers against Ecuador, thanks to yet another sensational free kick from Messi.
Argentina’s record playing away at Bolivia
In the context of historical records, Argentina’s recent visits to Bolivia have yielded mixed results. Over their last five away matches against Bolivia, they have clinched two victories, suffered two losses, and ended one encounter in a draw.
During these five matches, Argentina managed to find the net on six occasions but conceded a total of 11 goals to their South American counterparts.
A notable upset in this historical backdrop occurred in 2009 during the 2010 FIFA World Cup qualifiers, when Bolivia achieved a remarkable 6-1 triumph over Argentina. This victory came despite Argentina’s roster boasting renowned talents like Lionel Messi, Javier Zanetti, Javier Mascherano, and Carlos Tevez.
The most recent encounter between Argentina and Bolivia took place in 2021 as part of the 2022 World Cup qualifying process. Argentina secured a resounding 3-0 victory on that occasion. Lionel Messi delivered a memorable hat-trick during that match.
Fans rushing to see Messi at the airport in Bolivia pic.twitter.com/srs6T9Jhp9
— MC (@CrewsMat10) September 11, 2023
However, it’s worth noting that this game was played in Argentina and did not present the altitude challenge that Bolivia’s high-altitude stadiums often pose.
Head coach Lionel Scaloni has expressed uncertainty about starting Messi in the forthcoming qualifier against Bolivia due to concerns over fatigue. Messi’s busy schedule since his move to Inter Miami in the summer, coupled with a lack of a proper pre-season, has raised concerns about his physical condition.
As a precautionary measure, Scaloni may opt to rest Messi for this match, considering the harsh playing conditions in La Paz, where the risk of unnecessary injury could be higher for their star player.
On September 12, the newly crowned world champions face their first stern test as they square off against fellow South American opponents, reigniting the intriguing history between Argentina and Bolivia on the soccer pitch.