Argentina players have arrived in La Paz, Bolivia, ahead of their second 2026 World Cup qualifier game and fans have noticed an unusual item being carried by Lionel Messi and his teammates.
The world champions opened their qualifying campaign with a 1-0 win over Ecuador thanks to Messi’s second-half free kick.
The world champions need to be in the United States of America, Mexico, and Canada to defend the title they won in Qatar last year and a winning start was crucial.
However, Argentina’s second game tonight (September 12) poses a significant challenge – not necessarily because of the opponents but because of the location and the conditions the visitors will face.
La Albiceleste stars travelled in their usual attire with water bottles and tea flasks, but their trip to Bolivia saw them carry along an extra item.
As spotted by AlbicelesteTalk, players were pictured arriving in La Paz with mini oxygen canisters.
Alexis Mac Allister, Cuti Romero, and Nicolas Otamendi were pictured with the devices in hand as they alighted from the team bus in La Paz
Bolivia adds an extra element of difficulty due to the high altitude of about 11,942 feet above sea level, which causes altitude sickness for those unaccustomed to the conditions.
The tubes are meant to help provide oxygen and aid acclimatisation for the players. As reposted by BR Football, Brazil’s national team players required oxygen after their 0-0 draw in La Paz in 2017.
According to Web MD, altitude sickness is a group of symptoms that can occur when a person moves to a higher altitude very quickly, with severity ranging from mild to even life-threatening.
The symptoms can include headaches, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, fatigue, shortness of breath, sleeping problems, and even loss of appetite – all potentially debilitating for an active football player.