NIGERIA vs ARGENTINA: It’s the first time ever that Argentina have gone 4 World Cup games without a win and this year the two-time World Champions are on the verge of getting knocked out only after the group stages. After drawing their tournament’s openers against Iceland, Argentina took a solid beating against Croatia. A 3-0 defeat now means Argentina have to beat Nigeria, who are as mercurial a team can get. Can he be their saviour yet again? Nigeria has helped the Argentines to stay in contention. They beat the Icelandish men 2-0 and they’ll fancy their chances against a struggling Argentina defence. Nigeria vs Argentina, a game of such magnitude is bound to test the best. Who’s going to succumb under pressure? Fantasy football tips, match insights and permutations are drafted here.
WHERE: SAINT PETERSBURG STADIUM, ST. PETERSBURG
WHEN: 26th JUNE, 11:30 PM
PERMUTATIONS FOR GROUP D
Croatia have made it to the round of 16 and they’re likely to top the group, unless, Nigeria beat Argentina with a larger goal difference.
If Iceland beat Croatia and Nigeria draw against Argentina, either Nigeria or Iceland will qualify based on goal difference.
If Argentina beat Nigeria by a goal difference of 3 and if Iceland beat Croatia by 2 goals, goals scored will be the next criteria, followed by the head-to-head record of the tied teams. Should there be no winner decided still, fair play points(number of yellow cards) will be tallied and if still no winner is decided, FIFA will draw lots.
Franco Armani is set to take Willy Caballero’s place after his howler proved costly for Argentina.
Angel Di Maria, Gonzalo Higuain and Paolo Dybala are all available to start. How Sampaoli hasn’t gone with Dybala in the starting 11 is still a mystery.
John Obi Mikel fractured his arm against Iceland but will play with a cast around his left shoulder. Although, a confirmation will be needed by the match officials.
EXPECTED PLAYING 11
Goalkeeper: Francis Uzoho
Defenders: William Troost-Ekong, Kenneth Omeru, Leon Balogun, Tyronne Ebuehi
Midfielders: Victor Moses, Wilfred Ndidi, John Obi Mikel, Oghenekaro Etebo
Strikers: Kelechi Iheanacho, Ahmed Musa
Goalkeeper: Franco Armani
Defenders: Nicolas Otamendi, Nicolas Tagliafico, Gabriel Mercado, Eduardo Salvio
Midfielders: Enzo Perez, Javier Mascherano, Ever Banega
Strikers: Angel Di Maria, Lionel Messi, Gonzalo Higuain/Sergio Aguero
PLAYERS TO WATCH OUT FOR
Musa scored two stunning goals against Iceland in their 2-0 victory and he’ll be Nigeria’s, main man. The Super Eagles have the likes of Wilfred Ndidi, Etebo, John Obi Mikel and Victor Moses who provide plenty of quality in the midfield. Musa’s first goal against Iceland was an indication of content. The touch to control the ball and a quality finish of the volley. Argentina, on the other hand, have been extremely sloppy with their defence and if they aspire to qualify for the next rounds they ought to contain Ahmed Musa and company.
Against Iceland: Minutes played: 90, Goals: 2, Passes: 24, Dribbles: 4
He helped Argentina qualify for the World Cup with a hattrick against Ecuador and after two ordinary games, the greatest player of all time needs to win one more game for his country. This for a place in the knockout stages. Messi has been tucked by defences and teams have hunted him down in numbers. The greats rise higher and perform better under pressure and this is the perfect opportunity for Messi to shut a million critics. He’ll always be the player to watch out in a football game and this game is no different. Argentina needs him to fire and he just might.
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Both teams have played 8 games between them and 4 at the World Cup. Argentina has won all 4 at the World tournament.
Nigeria’s most recent encounter with Argentina came in November 2017. The Super Eagles won that game 4-2, thanks to an Alex Iwobi brace.
Argentina have never gone through a first-round World Cup group stage without at least winning one game.
Lionel Messi has had 12 shots in this World Cup so far but he’s yet to score.
4 – Ahmed Musa has scored 4 goals in World Cup games. The highest for his country.
Nigeria aren’t an easy team to beat but with Messi in the Argentine squad, they’re the favourites to take this game and with it a crucial 3 points. How many will they score? Argentina to win this game 3-1 is our prediction.
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Also, check out our previous match previews.
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