Watch Argentina Vs. Ecuador Live Steam Free, 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers First Round

Watch Argentina vs. Ecuador livestream free from Estadio Monumental in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in the 2018 FIFA World Cup opening round.

Argentina is, as expected, a favorite to qualify for the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia, and it meets the much weaker Ecuador on their first encounter for a berth in the tournament. Even without superstar Lionel Messi — who is sidelined with a knee injury and will miss Argentina’s first two matches — Los Albicelestes are a force to be reckoned with for Ecuador.

Speaking to reporters as he arrived in Buenos Aires for the match, Messi’s FC Barcelona teammate, Javier Mascherano, is hopeful that Argentina will start the 2018 World Cup qualifiers on the right foot. The Barca defender added Messi’s absence is no excuse for Argentina to stumble, according to FCBarcelona.com.

“We’re missing the most important player on the team but we’ve played without him before and had success. So it’s time to try it again. This should be our goal and not an excuse, because we have to recover and move on.”

If you watch Argentina vs. Ecuador livestream free, you will see if Mascherano’s wishes become a reality and Argentina can, as experts assume, move past Ecuador at home. Macherano said Ecuador and their next opponent, Paraguay, are crucial matches, and they will like to establish a nice cushion so they can be more relaxed later.

The road to the 2018 FIFA World Cup is long and difficult and nothing is a given. However, Argentina’s Sergio Aguero is coming off a spectacular five-goal match for Manchester City this past weekend. Manager Gerardo Martino is hoping the streak continues into the qualifiers Thursday.

Even though Argentina has the advantage in head-to-heads, Ecuador is not to be written off. La Tri qualified for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil and had a decent performance, despite being eliminated during the groups round.

Watch Argentina vs. Ecuador live stream free to see how coach Gustavo Quinteros deals with the powerhouse that is Argentina, with or without Messi. Following their match against Argentina, Ecuador faces Bolivia, but will have to do without striker Enner Valencia — who is still sidelined with a knee injury.

According to the Daily Mail, Quinteros was allowed to use a mobility scooter during Ecuador’s training session prior to the match against Argentina. The 50-year-old reportedly ruptured his Achilles tendon while playing football with friends on September 16, and his recovery will last a month.

Quinteros — who was appointed as Ecuador’s head coach on January, 2015 — hopes to grab at least four points from his team’s first two matches for the 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifiers. Watch Argentina vs. Ecuador livestream free, Quinteros’ first game as head coach to see if La Tri can take advantage of Messi’s absence.

“Ecuador will try to pressure Argentina in their own area, try to take the ball as soon as possible and avoid them enclosing us in our own area.” Quinteros told reporters ahead of the match.

Valencia has been sidelined since the pre-season, but could return to the pitch when West Ham faces Chelsea at the end of October. Quinteros is facing mounting criticism at home for what some call bad choices in calling up injured players and lack of leadership in making decisions.

The national publication in Ecuador, El Comercio, is calling Quinteros’ nomination of Santa Fe’s injured winger, Daniel Angulo, “monumental.” Likewise, Quinteros first called up Robert Arboleda (Universidad Católica) and Juan Rojas (Deportivo Quito), but later on changed his mind and sent both players back to their clubs.

On Thursday, all speculation will end and the teams will face-off in their first 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifier match. Watch Argentina vs. Ecuador live stream free here. Kickoff is at 8 p.m. ET.

[Photos by Elsa, Mike Stobe / Getty Images]