Match prediction & recommendation: NIGERIA
Nigeria will reach the second round of the World Cup for the second consecutive year if they repeat their victory against Argentina in Russia in November. The Super Eagles bounced back from losing their opening game against Croatia by beating Iceland last time out, and even a draw against Argentina – who drew with Iceland and lost to Croatia – could be enough to go through. The final match in Group D takes place at St Petersburg’s Krestovsky Stadium on Tuesday June 26, and kicks off at 9pm local time.
Nigeria Team News, Updates, and Facts
Nigeria Team News
Nigeria made several changes to face Iceland last time out – not least switching to three at the back in a 3-5-2 formation. The two strikers, Ahmed Musa – the double goalscorer – and Kelechi Iheanacho had both not started against Croatia. John Obi Mikel suffered a late injury in the 2-0 win, but he is expected to be fit to face Argentina.
Nigeria Key Players
Alex Iwobi (winger) – While he was only on the bench against Iceland last time out, the Arsenal man did score two goals in Nigeria’s 4-2 win against Argentina in November.
Victor Moses (right wing-back) – Reverted to the position he has made his own at Chelsea under Antonio Conte. His performance in attack and defence could be key.
Ahmed Musa (striker) – Scored both goals in the win against Iceland, having got back to goalscoring form with six in ten Russian Premier League games on loan at CSKA Moscow in the latter half of last season.
Nigeria Previous match
Nigeria 2-0 Iceland
Nigeria’s changes paid off as they beat Iceland in their second group game, bouncing back from the loss to Croatia well. Ahmed Musa, one of the changes made to the line-up, repaid the faith put in him by scoring twice in the second half. Gylfi Sigurdsson could have pulled one back late on, but his missed penalty meant no late drama for the Super Eagles.
Nigeria Team Form
Victory against Iceland ended a five-match winless streak for Nigeria team – a run in which they had lost four, including three in a row before last week’s success. Ahmed Musa’s goals marked a return to goalscoring ways, with only two goals scored in the previous five matches before them – a 2-0 defeat to Croatia in their opening World Cup game and a 1-0 loss to Czech Republic in their final warm-up being more reflective of their previous form.
Nigeria Predicted Starting Line up
Expected Line up:3-5-2
Nigeria likely XI
- Goalkeeper:Francis Uzoho
- Defenders:Abdullahi Shehu, Kenneth Omeruo, William Troost-Ekong, Leon Balogun, Brian Idowu
- Midfielders:Victor Moses, Etebo Oghenekaro, Wilfred Ndidi, John Obi Mikel, Brian Idowu
- Forwards:Kelechi Iheanacho, Ahmed Musa
Argentina Team News, Updates, and Facts
Argentina Team News
Argentina football team are likely to ring the changes after defeat to Croatia last time out, starting with Willy Caballero in goal. The veteran keeper’s mishit led to the first goal, and Nahuel Guzman is set to replace him between the sticks. Angel di Maria is also likely to return, after being surprisingly overlooked for Maximiliano Meza, while Marcos Rojo, Federico Fazio, Lucas Biglia and Ever Banega are all rumoured to be lined up for starts against Nigeria too.
Argentina Key Players
Lionel Messi (forward) – The captain and superstar delivered when it mattered most in qualifying, and Argentina need another inspired performance this time out.
Sergio Aguero (forward) – Scored against Iceland, and now has 38 for Argentina.
Angel di Maria (winger) – The Paris Saint-Germain man won his 95th international cap against Iceland, from which he has scored 19 goals and created plenty more, and is set to return on Tuesday.
Argentina Previous match
Argentina 0-3 Croatia
Willy Caballero’s dreadful mishit costs Argentina against Croatia, with the Chelsea goalkeeper gifting Croatia the first goal. Luka Modric added a second with Ivan Rakitic rounding off victory in stoppage time, taking advantage of sleepy Argentine defending.
Argentina Team Form
Argentina’s recent form highlights their inconsistency perfectly – a 4-2 defeat to Nigeria, having been 2-0 up, and a crushing 6-1 loss to Spain in among a 4-0 win against Haiti and 2-0 victory against Italy. Lionel Messi scored a hat-trick in the win against Haiti but missed a penalty as Argentina drew with Iceland in their opening group game. He was then totally anonymous against Croatia in the heavy defeat last time out.
Argentina Predicted Starting Line up
Expected Line up: 4-3-3
Argentina likely XI
- Goalkeeper:Nahuel Guzman
- Defenders:Gabriel Mercardo, Nicolas Otamendi, Federico Fazio, Marcos Rojo
- Midfielders:Ever Banega, Javier Mascherano, Lucas Biglia
- Forwards:Lionel Messi, Sergio Aguero, Angel di Maria
Nigeria vs Argentina Head-to-Head Stats
Nigeria and Argentina have met each other eight times in total, with Nigeria’s 4-2 win in November representing only their second win (one draw, five defeats). Four previous World Cup meetings between the two nations have always been won by Argentina, including a 3-2 win last time out. On that occasion, Ahmed Musa twice cancelled out Lionel Messi strikes before Marcos Rojo secured victory. Most recently, Kelechi Iheanacho, Brian Idowu and Alex Iwobi (twice) scored in the 4-2 win in Krasnodar.
Nigeria vs Argentina Stats
This will be Nigeria’s fifth attempt to beat Argentina at a World Cup – they have lost the other four games.
Nigeria’s win against Iceland ended a run of five straight defeats
Argentina have made it out of the first group stage in all but one of the last 11 World Cups they have qualified for
Nigeria’s 4-2 win in a friendly between these two in November was only the second time they have beaten Argentina in eight matches.
Nigeria vs Argentina Betting Tips
Argentina remain odds-on favourites to beat Nigeria but they will need to seriously improve if they are to beat the Super Eagles and salvage their World Cup hopes.
They do have the players to do just that, however. It was telling that Lionel Messi missed the defeat to Nigeria in November – when Argentina threw a 2-0 lead away – and their captain and superstar has delivered when needed the most in the past.
His hat-trick against Bolivia got them to the World Cup, and another couple of goals would be very well timed for their World Cup ambitions.
Aside from Messi, Angel di Maria is set to return while Sergio Aguero has scored Argentina’s only goal at this World Cup so far.
Nigeria were vastly improved after losing to Croatia in their first game, meanwhile, and have given themselves a very real chance of reaching the second round. The win against Argentina in their friendly in November came at a time when the Super Eagles were in top form, and they looked back to their best as Ahmed Musa ended their recent goalscoring issues with two goals against Iceland.
Musa scored twice against Argentina at the last World Cup too, while Messi netted twice in that same game and both are clearly danger men this time out.
Despite a dreadful start to the World Cup – a draw with Iceland and defeat to Croatia – Argentina’s tournament is not over yet. They need to step it up, but with players of the quality Argentina can call upon, they should do that against Nigeria.
Nigeria vs Argentina Recommended bets with odds
Betway are offering the best price of 4/7 on an Argentina win against Nigeria. Given their porous defence, however – even with changes set to be made at the back – it is worth backing Nigeria to score. Both teams to score is a best price of 10/11 with Betfair, while an Argentina win and BTTS is worth 12/5 with Bet365 and 888sport.
For the same reason, it is worth backing there to be more than 2.5 goals – Betfair again have the best price, of 17/20.
As for the goals, Lionel Messi scored twice in this fixture at the last World Cup and has scored two hat-tricks in recent Argentina appearances. You can still get 13/15 on Messi to score at any time with 888sport, however.
Sergio Aguero is 11/8 with Bet365, meanwhile, having scored Argentina’s goal in the opening game draw against Iceland.
Nigeria vs Argentina Top three bets
Nigeria vs Argentina Prediction
Argentina have work to do to book their place in the last 16, but these are the occasions when Lionel Messi needs to step up and prove he is the world’s best. Do that, and Argentina’s World Cup dream will still be alive.
Correct score prediction: Nigeria 2-1 Argentina
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