Picture Credit: Twitter

Picture Credit: Twitter

After a winning start to their World Cup Qualifiers campaign, Argentina will next face Bolivia away from home, which is considered one of the toughest fixtures on the calendar. But as the World Cup winning side arrived in Bolivia ahead of this fixture, they were seen carrying something which surprised all. Lionel Messi's Argentina were spotted carrying oxygen tubes in order to cope with the extreme conditions. 

Also Read: When and where to watch Bolivia vs Argentina in India?

The 2022 World Cup champions, however began their qualification campaign with a 1-0 victory over Ecuador, courtesy Lionel Messi’s free kick in the second half. The next World Cup qualifier against Bolivia will take place 3,637 meters above sea level at the Estadio Hernando Siles in La Paz, which is one of the highest professional stadiums in the world.

At these heights, altitude sickness is very common, especially during the physically daunting task of playing an international football game.  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. This is the reason that the players often use the oxygen tubes at these altitudes.

The Hernando Siles Stadium was briefly unable to host qualifiers after a FIFA ruling banned stadiums at a height of over 2,500 meters due to the extreme conditions. The height limit was lifted to 3,000 meters months later, and the Estadio Hernando Siles was given a special exemption. Liverpool midfielder Alexis MacAllister posted a picture of himself using his oxygen tube in La Paz, while Cristian Romero was also clutching his as he left the team bus in the pictures doing rounds on social media.

The Bolivian side has made this stadium a fortress, as they are used to playing at this height and the opponents usually have very little time to adjust. Earlier, Brazil's national team also required oxygen after their 0-0 draw at La Paz in 2017, after which Neymar Jr. called the conditions ‘inhumane’.