It all started when Sampaoli left the team. Juan Antonio Pizzi had a terrible performance in the qualifiers, winning just 40% of the points and with a -7 goal difference in 14 games.
In the end, only the team's performance in the Copa America Centenario and the Confederations Cup (to an extent), allowed for a bit of breathing room for Pizzi and his staff, but in the end it was terrible.
We couldn't beat Bolivia or Paraguay in both games and you just can't qualify without at least some points in those games. Talking about the matter on the pitch, Pizzi never found the structure to highlight the best qualities of the tremendous squad at his disposal, he tried to hide the lack of a true #9 in the pool by trying to play with 2 forwards, getting Vargas and Alexis, players who shine on the wings, to play inside, with Alexis having a bit more freedom to move, but in the end having him get the ball way too deep.
We had a bit of a mix of bad luck and bad planning, going to the Confederations Cup with a full squad, not allowing our key players to rest over the summer. That meant, most of them had very few matches on their bodies by the September qualifier double date, which saw us lose 0-3 in Santiago against Paraguay and 0-1 against Bolivia in La Paz. A single point from those games, would have us in the playoffs against New Zealand now.