While Argentina are already through to the next round, a draw will be good enough for Nigeria to advance to the next round. But even if Nigeria lose today, they could still advance if Iran fails to beat Bosnia or Iran doesn’t better Nigeria’s goal difference.
Where to watch –
The match begins at 12 PM EST/9 AM PST, and this is where viewers in USA can watch the game –
Nicola Rizzoli (Italy)
Starting lineups –
Nigeria: Enyeama, Ambrose, Yobo, Omeruo, Oshaniwa, Musa, Mikel, Onazi, Babatunde, Emenike, Odemwingie.
Argentina: Romero, Zabaleta, Garay, Fernandez, Rojo, Gago, Mascherano, Di Maria, Aguero, Messi, Higuain.
Despite having 4 points out of a possible 6, they are still not safe from elimination as a heavy loss against Argentina, coupled with a win for Iran could see them crash out of the World Cup. Therefore, they will be desperate to at least pick up a point today.
The South Americans seem to have risen after a long period of dormancy. Despite being frustrated by Iran in their last match, they managed to win which has sealed their passage into the Round of 16. It is a possibility that we could see a reshuffled outfit, given the fact that Argentina’s fate has already been decided.
Nigeria could take heart from the fact that they have not conceded a single goal yet in the tournament, and would be hoping that they can stop Messi and co. and keep an impressive 3 straight clean sheets.
As for Argentina, they have a much higher pass completion rate (83% compared to Argentina’s 90%) and have created more changes per game (14) than Nigeria (10). It is likely to be a case of Nigeria’s determined defense against the silky and confident attack of Argentina.
Who to watch out for –
Hands down, Nigeria’s primary threat and their biggest challenge would be stopping Lionel Messi. The Barcelona star has been a game changer in both of Argentina’s matches so far, scoring the decisive goal on both occasions.
It is expected that he will be heavily marked by Nigeria, whose chief duty could rest with defensive midfielder John Obi Mikel, on whom this task would be entrusted.
Nigeria have done well in maintaining 2 clean sheets out of two, but I doubt that they will make it 3, especially against the likes of Messi, Aguero and di Maria.