The 21st FIFA World Cup Group stage is yet to be over by this weekend, the important matches i.e the deciders are going to take place this week. One of such decider matches is Nigeria VS Argentina in Group D. Croatia finished as table toppers and secured a place in Pre Quater Final; for the runner up slot in Group D, three teams were battling. None was expected this kind of performance from the two times world Champions Argentina, their poorest Group Stage performance after 1958 World Cup. Let us see some important postulates of the decider.
● Match Details :
○ Match No: 39: Nigeria VS Argentina.
○ Date: 26th June 2018
○ Time: 21:00 MSK(UTC+3), 11:30 PM(IST)
○ Venue: Zenit Arena, St Petersburg
○ TV Broadcast: Sony Network
○ Online Streaming: Sony Liv
● Team Details :
○ Nigeria :
Nigeria’s win against Iceland had given life to Argentina, unless if they had lost then La Albiceleste were out of the World Cup. It is a must win game for both the teams as whoever wins will qualify to the next stage. After the loss against Croatia in the opening game of WC, Rohr has tuned the team and it had reflected in their game against Iceland, where they clinched victory convincingly by 2-0. The brace from Musa had lifted the confidence of the team. All the departments of the Super Eagles were good when we see in the last game, so surely there will be no change in their line up. Nigeria will not lead the match out of their hands easily as their only motive is a win and that will make them move ahead. Nigerian star player Musa had warned Messi and Argentina, he told that once again he will score a brace and lead his team to Round of 16.
○ Argentina :
No one could think of Argentina’s lacklustre performance in the WC. They started their tournament with levelling the match against the small nation of Iceland. In their 2nd game they had lost to Croatia 3-0! Football is a team game and the downfall in Albiceleste’s recent performance is due to the under-performance of all the players. The continuous poor performance had lead unrest situation in the Argentinan dressing room. Argentina is going to meet Nigeria with plenty of pressure, a win is not enough for them atleast a margin of 3 goal win is essential for Argentina’s further stay in WC. Today Maradona has visited Argentina’s practice campaign in St Petersburg and gave the team a confidence, particularly he said to Messi as “You are not guilty of anything”!
● Injury List :
○ Argentina- Fernando Gago, Sergio Romero.
● Probable Line up:
● Nigeria :
Shehu, Balogun, Ekong, Idowu;
Moses, Ndidi, Etebo, Iwobi;
○ Argentina :
Mercado, Otamendi, Tagliafico;
Salvio, Mascherano, Perez, Acuna;
Messi(C), Aguero, Meza.
● Recent Form :
○ Nigeria: D L L L W
○ Argentina: W L W D L
● Head to Head :
The two teams have met in eight matches, including four games at FIFA World Cup group stages, in 1994, 2002, 2010 and 2014, all won by Argentina.
● Manager’s Quotes :
○ Nigeria :
“The whole world will be watching this game and it’s a chance to show what we’re capable of,” said Rohr.
“Runs like that have to come to an end at some point,” Rohr further told that “We’re confident because we beat Argentina in a friendly last year. You have to put Argentina’s so-called weakness into perspective,” Rohr added.
“They had bad luck with the penalty in their first game, and the outcome would’ve been different if that had gone in.
“They’ve got one of the best players in the world and have unbelievable quality throughout the team. But it just goes to show that you can’t plan for everything. That’s part of the game’s appeal.
“We have youthful abandon, enthusiasm and desire. And most of our players want to get to where the Argentines already are – the very top.”
○ Argentina :
Jorge Sampaoli has been under immense pressure off late. Talks of him being sacked were on air but AFA has clarified that he will not be sacked before the tournament ends.
Sampaoli said in the press-conference, “I think we’re going to see the best of Argentina from tomorrow onwards,” he said. “I firmly believe in the quality of the players and in particular Messi’s leadership, which I believe will come to the fore and be evident.
“I’m convinced also by the knowledge of the backroom staff and the management team. Their wisdom and knowledge will show itself. I think the two matches we’ve seen so far will be used as a grounding to put in a style of play that the national team wants to see. “I’ve got a huge amount of faith in both the coach and the staff and also the players. From tomorrow you will see a different style of performance.”
● Author’ s Take :
A multi dimensional game is on the cards in the Group D. Not only the result of this match, also both the teams have to wait for the result of the Croatia VS Iceland match. In this game Iceland have to lose, if it happens then only there will be a way for Nigeria and Argentina. Also Croatian skipper Modric had said they will win against Iceland and surely will like to see Argentina into the Pre Quarters only for Messi. A fiercing action is waiting for all the football fans. My prediction Argentina 1-0 Nigeria.