Nigeria vs Argentina Preview

Image result for nigeria vs argentina image world cup
(Image courtesy of YouTube)


Crunch time. There's a lot riding on this fixture, both teams want to win this desperately so they can progress into the knockout stages alongside Croatia.  This match is poised very nicely given Nigeria beat Iceland 2-0, so it's all to play for. Argentina need to win handsomely, to up their goal difference and now make entirely sure of the three points and progression. If Iceland lose against Croatia in their match, then any win will do for Argentina, or a draw for Nigeria.

PREDICTED LINEUPS:

NIGERIA:

Goalkeeper: Francis Uzoho.

Kept a solid clean sheet in the last game and wasn't too shabby against Croatia either. Needs to be at his best in this game. 

Defenders: Leon Balogun, William Ekong and Kenneth Omeruo (CBs).

This system worked nicely against Iceland was deployed to good effect in the latter half of their warm up match against England, a few weeks ago. The three centre halves are young, skilled and have pace, sought after in defenders nowadays. They'll have their hands full with the likes of Messi and Agüero attacking against them.

Midfielders: Bryan Idowu (LWB/LM), John Obi Mikel (CDM), Victor Moses (RWB/RM), Wilfred Ndidi and Alex Iwobi (CMs). 

Idowu is well used to playing in Russia and has been decent internationally. He and the experienced Moses of Chelsea will be looking to pace up and down the flanks, trying to make things happen and feed the ball in centrally. Iwobi and Ndidi with their pace and creativity will try and look forward, with the skipper Mikel shoring things up in deep.

Forwards: Kelechi Ihenacho (CF) and Ahmed Musa (CF).

Agility and strike force personified. Will give the Argentine defenders a hard time running around up there, trying to latch onto through balls.

ARGENTINA:

Goalkeeper: Willy Caballero. 

Now, utterly horrendous is an understatement of his performance in the last game and before that he was so average also, so it's bold for me calling for him to play in this colossal game. But for consistency, I've gone for him, he needs to really pull up his socks and show us why he's a keeper, because he can play, as we've seen in the Prem. Guzman is very inexperienced internationally too, and it'll be a lot of pressure for him to come in for this game and play his first World Cup match with this amount of expectation and pressure, it could be unbearable. But, then again Caballero could crumble similarly, so who knows. Could be Armani as well. I'm sticking with Caballero for now.

Defenders: Nicolas Tagliafico (LB), Marcos Rojo and Nicolas Otamendi (CBs), Gabriel Mercado (RB).

The five at the back system was dreadful, didn't work one bit. In fact it did the opposite of provide extra defensive support; it opened up areas and showed weaknesses in the backline. So, Sampaoli needs to revert to four at the back, which plays well for Argentina. Mercado played well in defence, so I'd replace Salvio with him, and bring back Rojo, as he and Otamendi are the best two Argentine centre backs.

Midfielders: Javier Mascherano and Lucas Biglia (CMs), Angel Di Maria (CAM).

The midfielders must step up now, wining the challenges and looking to command the midfield battle. Di Maria really needs to find his feet and give at least something in the way of creativity and penetration going forward.

Forwards: Paolo Dybala (LW), Sergio Agüero (ST), Lionel Messi (RW).

If Sampaoli is wise, he'll put all personal things beside and put the team first, rather than picking his 
Image result for messi and argentina players
Can the captain lead his side to a
formidable win? (Image from YouTube)
favourite players. Dybala has to start. Period. He came on in the last game and actually looked threatening. Should Agüero and Messi perform like we know they can do, and oh boy they really have to, with word of international retirement after the competition for them both, then Dybala will suit the style perfectly and link up very well. 


SCORE PREDICTION: Nigeria 1-3 Argentina. The Super Eagles will give Argentina a run for their money, trying to push for the win themselves. The game will be very hard and closely contested, but if Argentina can get an early opening goal and get momentum going, then it should be a win for La Albiceleste. 

What a cracker this game looks like its going to be, all the players want it so badly, and I can't wait to watch it all unfold! 

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