World Cup Preview: Nigeria vs Argentina – Recent Form, Previous Encounters, Predictions & More

This fixture has the potential to be one of the clashes of the tournament so far. An underwhelming Argentina side have left themselves on the verge of an embarrassing early exit after gaining just a point from their first two fixtures.

Nigeria threw Lionel Messi’s side a lifeline by beating Iceland in their last game, leaving this group wide open. It means Argentina can all but ensure qualification to the knockout stages with a convincing win here.

It’s not going to come easy though as Argentina have huffed and puffed but have certainly not blown anyone away. The Super Eagles meanwhile struggled in their opener but looked impressive in their victory over Iceland, with two-goal hero Ahmed Musa netting one of the goals of the tournament. 


Recent Form

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Nigeria qualified in a pretty convincing manner despite been drawn against an impressive Cameroon side. Their warm-up games for this World Cup didn’t exactly instil confidence though as they were beaten by Serbia, England and the Czech Republic and held to a draw against DR Congo.

They carried that form into the opening game and looked second best against Croatia but finally showed a sense of urgency against Iceland. With Musa reinstated into the starting lineup, Nigeria possessed a greater purpose in their attack and made Iceland pay with a convincing 2-0 victory.

They’ll enter this fixture with a slight advantage and will be hoping to capitalise on an Argentina side who have already broken national records for all the wrong reasons this tournament.

Les Albiceleste limped through CONMEBOL qualifiers, very nearly failing to reach this World Cup altogether. Some late dramatics guided Jorge Sampaoli’s side to Russia but performances have been less than convincing from the South American giants.

They were held to a draw in their fixture against Iceland and were also easily outclassed by Croatia in the end, losing 3-0. Argentina have one last chance to spare their blushes and get a much needed World Cup victory, but there is still much work required before they are fit to enter the knockout stages, with France likely to be their first opponents if they get through.  


Previous Encounters

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Nigeria and Argentina are familiar opposition and have actually met five times competitively, including encounters in the last two World Cups. Argentina have had the better of these competitive fixtures, having won four and drawn one. Nigeria have bested the Argentines twice in friendly fixtures though, scoring four goals on both occasions.

Their last competitive meeting was in the group stage at the 2014 World Cup with Argentina emerging the victors in a tense game. Musa was on the scoresheet twice for Nigeria that day with Messi bagging a brace for his side too. Marcos Rojo split the difference with the winning goal to make it 3-2.

The two sides also met as recently as November in a friendly in Russia which the Super Eagles comfortably won. Ever Banega and Sergio Aguero gave their side a 2-0 lead before a surge from Nigeria saw them score four times to win the day.

With 11 goals in the last two fixtures between these sides and so much riding on this game, it should be a classic. 


Predicted Lineups

Nigeria (3-5-2): Uzoho, Balogun, Troost-Ekong, Omeru, Moses, Ndidi, Obi, Etebo, Ebuehi, Musa, Iheanacho.

Argentina (3-4-3): Cabellero, Rojo, Otamendi, Tagliafico, Pavon, Banega, Mascherano, Acuna, Messi, Aguero, Dybala.


Prediction

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It hasn’t looked good for Argentina for a long time and Messi will surely be questioning his decision to come out of retirement. As many as eight players are being tipped to announce their own international retirement from the Argentinian squad following this tournament with many of them already beyond their prime years.

They’ll not want to end those international careers on such a low point though after frequent near misses, having lost in the final of their last three major tournaments. On paper, it’s a mismatch, which only signifies the talent Argentina have at their disposal, there are plenty of game changers in that side and Sampaoli just needs one of them to deliver.

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Predicting this World Cup is increasingly becoming a fool’s game but it’s too soon to write off the 2014 runners-up. Nigeria should make one hell of a game of it, but Argentina might just edge it, in a repeat of the result in their last competitive meeting.

Prediction: Nigeria 2-3 Argentina

INSÓLITO | Un jugador croata rechazó la camiseta de Lionel Messi tras el partido

En la segunda jornada del Grupo D del Mundial de Rusia 2018, Croacia dio la sorpresa al vencer 3-0 a Argentina, que se mostraba como candidato a llevarse el partido.

El encuentro fue muy favorable para los europeos, sobre todo en el segundo tiempo, donde demostraron una superioridad notoria tanto en el juego asociativo como a la hora de defender, encontrando los espacios que la zaga argentina entregó al jugar con línea de tres.

Sin embargo, lo que tomó mucha repercusión fueron las declaraciones de un futbolista croata tras el encuentro: Ante Rebic, autor del primer gol, quien rechazó la camiseta de Lionel Messi, por razones que comentó tras el partido.

“Antes del partido había planeado conseguir la camiseta de Messi para un buen amigo que lo admira mucho, pero los argentinos dejaron una impresión tan mala que ya no quise tenerla. Me sorprendieron negativamente por su falta de Fair Play”, aseguró el jugador de 24 años.

La repercusión llegó rápidamente a Argentina y fue muy cuestionada tanto por los principales medios deportivos como por la audiencia, alegando que en ningún momento existió tal falta de competitividad sana de la que habla Rebic. Lo cierto es que se quedó sin uno de los tesoros más preciados: la casaca del crack.

CONMOVEDOR | La increíble celebración de Panamá tras su primer gol en la historia de los Mundiales

Luego de la derrota en su debut mundialista ante Bélgica, Panamá se enfrentaba ayer ante Inglaterra esperando el milagro de conseguir un buen resultado que lo dejara con opciones de poder clasificar a la siguiente fase.

Sin embargo, los ingleses le dieron un golpe de realidad: en el partido con más goles en lo que va de la Copa del Mundo de Rusia, junto al Bélgica 5-2 Túnez. El resultado terminó siendo 6 a 1 en contra de los panameños, pero una situación muy particular se dio en el “gol de honor”.

Y es que cuando el partido ya estaba liquidado, Felipe Baloy marcó el primer gol en la historia de Panamá en los Mundiales y se festejó como si fuera el de la final de la Copa del Mundo. El central panameño se juntó con los hinchas presentes y disfrutó del hecho histórico, mientras el técnico celebraba emocionado.

No es la primera vez que algo de éste estilo ocurre en el presente certamen: Islandia vivió lo propio en el partido ante nada menos que Argentina, donde igualó 1 a 1 en su debut mundialista.

Lógicamente, lo ocurrido causó mucha repercusión en todo el mundo y, aunque Panamá ya quedó eliminado, nadie les hará olvidar este momento, que quedará grabado para toda la vida.

Jose Pekerman Delighted With His Team’s Performance as Colombia Crush Poor Poland in Group H

Colombia manager Jose Pekerman dedicated his side’s 3-0 win over Poland in Group H to midfielder Carlos Sanchez, who has received death threats in the wake of his red card in their opening group game.

Goals from Yerry Mina, Radamel Falcao and Juan Cuadrado saw the Colombian’s ease past a poor Poland side, boosting their chances of qualifying from Group H in the process.

Speaking in his press conference, Pekerman stated (via alairelibre): “I’d like to dedicate this victory to Carlos Sanchez who has gone through a very tough time over the last few days. That’s a position the squad shares too.”

“We want the players, as they do, to always depend on their performance, the obstacles they may have in a game, which is why Colombia has grown a lot, because these players have self-criticism, they are ambitious, they are capable of overcoming bad moments. 

“I see that it is very difficult for them to fall into that role, because they have never done it, we are mentally well, but we have to improve because we are ambitious, we came with that intention.”

Former Manchester United striker Falcao managed to notch his first World Cup goal, with Pekerman expressing how happy he was with the 32-year-old’s performance.

“It is one of the greatest joys that the game has given us, Falcao is an emblem of the national team, we are always hoping that he can make goals, be like in this Sunday’s game, we want to help him as a team so that he can show his full potential, what he has converted is very important for what is to come.”

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Colombia face Senegal in their last group game in the Samara Arena, where Colombia will be hoping to progress to the round of 16 with victory once more.

Poland Boss Adam Nawałka Takes Full Responsibility Following Crushing 3-0 Defeat to Colombia

Poland boss Adam Nawałka has taken full responsibility for his side’s 3-0 loss to Colombia, a result that leaves the Poles unable to progress from the group stages.

Goals from Yerry Mina, Radamel Falcao and Juan Cuadrado condemned Poland to their second defeat in the tournament as Colombia kept their round of 16 hopes alive with a scintillating performance.

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After the game, Nawałka, via Gazeta pomorska, revealed his dejection at the way his side had performed, before taking full responsibility for his side’s shortcomings.

“We regret it very much and we are really angry, but you have to be able to live with it. After all, tomorrow is another day. For me, this failure hurts the most, I take responsibility for it. I do not have a jumble in my head, it’s sport, football. Such results are included in it.

“We knew perfectly well how dangerous the Colombia team are, how outstanding players have been in their composition, playing in the best clubs. Hence our pre-match strategy to attack them from the first minutes and to try to quickly score, and play carefully in the defence and go out for quick attacks.”

“However, the Colombians were better and I think people will be loud about them this World Cup.”

“As for the match against Japan, this rival is very well disposed, it is a team that plays very collectively. You can see the automatisms in the game, repeatability, but also a lot of individual skill. “

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The Poles will head into their final group game against Japan hoping to salvage something from the tournament, though it seems almost certain that they will now finish bottom of Group H.

Maurizio Sarri to ‘Live & Sleep’ at Chelsea’s Training Ground This Week as Appointment Edges Closer

Maurizio Sarri has been tipped to start living at Chelsea’s training ground when he is finally appointed as the club’s new manager this week – in a bid to make up for lost time as he attempts to get to grips with the challenge he faces.

Despite the complicated circumstances that still surround the need to sack Antonio Conte, a deal for Sarri has been rumoured to be getting closer and closer.

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According to the Daily Mirror, the 59-year-old Italian will begin his two-year stay at Chelsea by moving into the club’s Cobham training ground, even going as far as sleeping there to begin with.

Sarri is described as a ‘workaholic’ and will have barely two weeks to prepare himself before the first set of Chelsea players report back for pre-season training on 9th July.

Initially, living at work will therefore cut down on needless distractions such as commuting.

Sarri has a lot of work to do if Chelsea are to bounce back from a difficult 2017/18 season in which FA Cup glory at Wembley failed to paper over the cracks that had developed just 12 months after winning a Premier League title in record breaking fashion.

The uncertainty over the managerial situation is said to have held Chelsea back in the transfer market in terms of new arrivals who wanted to know who they would be playing for, while it has also led to suggestions that it could push Eden Hazard, Thibaut Courtois and others to leave.

Juventus defender Daniele Rugani is the only player Chelsea appear to have made any progress with after a report from Italy last week claimed that an offer to the player had been made and that the west London side were willing to meet Juve’s €35m-€40m valuation.