The 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifying group enters its final phase as Ecuador host Argentina in Quito in the early hours of Wednesday 11 October, kicking off at 01:30 CEST.
Peru held Argentina to a 0-0 draw in Buenos Aires on Thursday that left Sampaoli's team in sixth place in the 10-nation South American group, out of the qualifying places for Russian Federation.
Yet with only two points separating third-placed Chile (26 points) with seventh-placed Paraguay (24), any number of permutations are possible.
A draw in Quito might even be enough for Lionel Messi and company to claim at least a play-off berth - providing fifth-placed Peru lose at home to fourth-placed Colombia - but Sampaoli is determined for his side to keep their destiny in their own hands.
The teams finishing second, third and fourth qualify directly for Russian Federation 2018, while the fifth-placed side go into a play-off against New Zealand. They need to win - and wait for some results to go their way - if they want to punch a direct ticket to the tournament.
Barcelona star Messi also has a record of struggling in games at altitude, vomiting on the pitch during a draw in the rarefied air of Bolivia four years ago.
The 57-year-old said he would accept a result whichever way it came, with rain also forecast.
"If we are at Messi's level, the match will go very well".
The 2014 World Cup finalists face their moment of truth after a series of uninspiring performances that has left the footballing world scratching its head at how a squad bristling with so much attacking talent has found scoring so hard.
The reality of Argentina's stuttering attack is that their only goal in their last four games came from an own-goal, and the last goal that was scored from the boot of an Argentinian came from the captain Messi - from the penalty spot.
With La Bobonera crowd heaving, Argentina created 22 chances in its last match - against Peru - firing six of those on target.
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The Albiceleste have now scored only once in their past four qualifying games.
Having romped to the 2005 Youth World Cup, then backed up winning the Olympic gold medal at Beijing in 2008, it was considered only a matter of time before this crew brought home the Jules Rimet for its adoring fans.
"Argentina is all at sea".
"I don't understand it when it's said that the problem is psychological", he said.
"I believe in projects and planning, but in our football, there's nothing".
And Venezuela's poor campaign over three years in no way reflects the team they have now. "It wouldn't happen anywhere else".
Chile will be going to Russian Federation if they beat Brazil away.
And with rivals Argentina lying outside a qualification spot, will Brazil really be able to motivate themselves to save their eternal enemy's skins?
Uruguay meanwhile need only take a point in their home qualifier against already-eliminated Bolivia to be certain of progressing. Colombia will go through if they beat Peru in Lima.
Colombia were moments from qualifying for the World Cup last Thursday before two last-gasp goals from Paraguay turned a 1-0 win into a 2-1 defeat.