After a superb performance against the Icelandic, the Nigerians will be hoping that they can find another inspiring win against the Argentinians in their last Group D game on Tuesday at the Krestovsky Stadium.
Nigeria and Argentina will be battling it out for a spot in the last-16 and Jorge Sampaoli’s side could make some unwanted history if they fail to get out of the group.
Argentina are currently on their longest winless run in World Cup finals history (D2, L2) and they haven’t gone this far without having at least one victory. They will be facing a confident Nigeria team who have risen from the ashes and there is a good chance that Messi and co could be on an early flight home.
Nigeria are sure to turn up with the in-form Ahmed Musa scoring a brace in their last game against Iceland as Nigeria went on to win 2-0. Argentina coach Sampaoli will be urging his players to give their best performance on Tuesday but Nigeria will give it their all which should make this a thrilling encounter.
Nigeria will be attacking for a large part of the game. They will play balls over the top of Argentina’s defence for Musa to run after and they will play ground passes through their defence to send Musa through on goal as well. Argentina are likely to put a few men around Musa to stop him threatening their goal and this could leave spaces open for Victor Moses and Brian Idowu on the wing which will spread out Argentina’s defence. Argentina’s defence is really poor and Musa’s pace will be key for Nigeria in this game.
Like Nigeria, Argentina will also be attacking for most of the game. They will use every opportunity to play through Lionel Messi who will also be expected to have a few men around him like Nigeria’s Musa. They will also need someone on Sergio Aguero who looks more dangerous to Nigeria’s defence than Messi at the moment. Argentina will try to pass it through Nigeria’s defence and the Super Eagles will need to make sure that they cut out those passes to ensure that Messi and Aguero aren’t left on a one-on-one with the goalkeeper.
Nigeria: Uzoho, Balogun, Troost-Ekung, Omeruo, Moses, Ndidi, Mikel, Oghenekaro, Idowu, Musa, Iheanacho
Argentina: Armani, Mercado, Otamendi, Tagliafico, Salvio, Banega, Mascherano, Acuna, Messi, Di Maria, Aguero
Willy Caballero looks likely to be dropped by Sampaoli for his horrendous mistakes against Croatia, with River Plate goalkeeper Franco Armani set to take his place even though he is uncapped. Angel Di Maria and Ever Banega could start for the Argentinians after uninspiring performances from Perez and Meza. Gonzalo Higuain and Paulo Dybala are also available.
Nigeria captain John Obi Mikel is set to play with his left hand in a cast after sustaining a fracture against Iceland, although he will need the all-clear from match officials to wear the protective material. Orion Ighalo and Alex Iwobi are expected to remain dropped after the great performances in their last game from Musa and Idowu.
Players to Watch
Nigeria – Ahmed Musa
The Leicester City man was on fire against Iceland. There were very few that thought Nigeria stood a chance against the reislient Icelandic but boy did they prove us wrong. Musa coming in for Ighalo and Iheanacho partnering him was an amazing decision and it showed when the two linked up superbly to create so many chances. Musa’s blistering pace and trickery shook the Icelandic and his brace will give him the world of confidence against the Argentinians.
Argentina – Sergio Aguero
In my eyes, he has been the only spark in a falling team. Argentina have been truly woeful in the World Cup and Aguero will have to step up alongside Messi if they are to save their tournament. With service, the guy is lethal in front of goal and if Messi can switch on and provide him with the support he needs then Nigeria will be in for a long night if he’s on his game.
Argentina surely can’t perform by worse than they did against Croatia. This game will be the biggest game for Argentina since the 2014 World Cup final in Brazil. Sampaoli is under huge pressure, the team doesn’t know what to do, and they’ve lost most of the DNA that’s seen them do well in previous tournaments.
I can’t belive that he isn’t playing Higuain, Dybala and Aguero together with Messi. In my opinion, he should try it out as it can’t get any worse. All those world class strikers and he can’t seem to get it right. The defence is poor but they will have to take the biggest risk in order to get out of the group. Nigeria will make life difficult for Argentina but I can see an answer coming from Messi as he has to step up. Argentina will win this narrowly for me.
Nigeria 1-2 Argentina
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