Argentina secured their place in Round-of-16 after a stunning goal from Marcos Rojo on the 86th minute of the game. Argentina were in a must win position in Group D after a draw and loss in last two rounds. After the win against Nigeria, the South American giants secure the second place with Croatia in the first place defeating Iceland 2-1 to qualify for the last 16 from Group D.
Messi did it when the entire nation needed him to deliver in this world cup for Argentina as they were in the last position in Group D. Messi scored the opening goal of the game with Juventus forward Higuain struggling at the other end. Marcos Rojo scored the late winner as Argentina will face France in the Round-of-16. There were so many talking points and here are some important talking points of this game.
● Messi Shines As He Scores The 100th Goal In This World Cup:
Leo Messi made a wonderful run and scored a brilliant and much needed goal for Argentina. This goal was the 100th goal scored in this FIFA World Cup campaign. FC Barcelona’s star player showed his character in Russia scoring his first goal in the ongoing world cup in the all important game against Nigeria. Messi also achieved another milestone of becoming the first ever player in a world cup to score in his teens, in his 20s and also his 30s. Messi tucked away the chance in style with stunning finish with his right foot. Ever Banega was the one to assist the goal and he was brilliant throughout the game for Argentina against Nigeria.
● Finally The Right Formation For Argentina:
Jorge Sampaoli finally changed the team’s formation from last game to a more attacking formation of 4-3-3 against Nigeria which worked out pretty well in the end. This formation saw Messi and Di Maria being given space with Higuain in the center. Marcos Rojo and Nicolas Otamendi were at the back while, Javier Mascherano, Enzo Perez and Ever Banega started in the middle. Nigeria was looking for counters and stopped them right in flanks. This formation gave space for midfielders to move freely and Banega added more creativity in the midfield gave an much needed assist to Lionel Messi which gave South Americans their lead in the first half. With this formation working well, Dybala and Sergio Augero weren’t in the Sampoali’s plan.
● Vital Penalty For Nigeria:
Nigeria had a wonderful opportunity to level the game with a penalty given away by Javier Mascherano. Nigeria were looking to press from the start with Iheanacho and Musa making threats to Argentina defense. With Messi’s early goal in the first half, Nigeria wasn’t able to produce good performance by not gathering some loose balls from Argentina. Argentina defenders did some good job to stop the counters with crucial tackles. Former Barcelona player, Mascherano was found guilty for bringing down Nigeria player inside the box and referee pointed straight on to the spot. Victor Moses calmly took the penalty for his African Nation and equalized as well. Nigeria defense played well for a draw by but they couldn’t capitalize and hold on with this score line for 90 minutes.
● Ever Banega Pulled The Strings From Midfield:
Ever Banega started for the first time in this World Cup under Jorge Sampaoli and showed why he should be in the starting eleven. Banega made the real difference in the midfield creating many opportunities and also assisted the opening goal for Argentina as Messi found the net with his brilliant first touch. Talented midfielder also assisted the 100th goal in this World Cup campaign who is been targeted by Arsenal. With this good form Banega will be in Sampaoli’s plan in the coming knock out games without doubt. Nigerians struggled to contain him in the midfield as he was controlling the ball and made his runs through the defensive line. Banega was the key player irrespective of goals from Rojo and Messi.
● Solid Defence From Argentina:
Manchester United’s Marcos Rojo was the key defender in the Argentine side as he scored the stunning winner late in the second half and was also doing a solid defending at the back as well with Otamendi.
Argentina’s defence was as solid that they cleared everything that came in their way. Loose balls were also contained and cleared by the defenders, which was really important in a crucial game. The only goal came through the penalty, when Javier Mascherano brought down a Nigerian player inside the box. Nigerians gained the possession often but they couldn’t go for a try as Argentina defenders tackled the ball and regained the possession. This defense will be tested against France when they meet in the all-important Round-of-16 stage in FIFA World Cup.
● PLAYERS’ RATINGS:
N. Tagilafico-5, M. Rojo-6, N. Otamendi-5, G. Mercado-5;
A. Di Maria-6, E. Banega-8, J. Mascherano-4, E. Perez-5;
L. Messi-7, G. Higuain-4.
M. Meza-4, S. Aguero-5, C. Pavon-6.
L. Balogun-5, W. Troost-Ekong-5, K. Omeruo-5;
V. Moses-7, O. Ndidi-6, J. Obi Mikel-7, O. Etebo-7, B. Idow-6;
K. Iheanacho-5, A. Musa-7.
O. Igalo-5, S. Nwankwo-5, A. Iwobi-5.