Nigeria Needs to Avoid Defeat to Move on In World Cup

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Can the Nigerian National Soccer team defeat powerhouse Argentina in today’s match and stave off elimination? 

SkySports News by Paul Merson

June 25, 2014

http://www1.skysports.com/football/live/match/305772/preview

Argentina have already booked their spot in the last 16 after winning their opening two matches and only require a draw to win the group, which would most likely mean they avoid France and instead face the Group E runners-up in Sao Paulo next Tuesday.

Alejandro Sabella’s side will be looking for more than a point, though, having failed to shine in either of their games so far and been made to work for a 2-1 win over Bosnia-Herzegovina and 1-0 success against Iran.

On both occasions they have been thankful to moments of magic from Lionel Messi, who followed up his stunning goal against Bosnia with the last-minute winner to see off Iran.

OPTA FACTS

  • This will be the fourth meeting involving Nigeria and Argentina at a FIFA World Cup; Argentina won the previous three to have taken place.
  • Lionel Messi has scored eight goals in his last seven appearances for Argentina.
  • Nigeria won their first World Cup game in 10 outings against Bosnia and Herzegovina (D3 L6).

“All players who played today have contributed to this victory but of course we have a genius who is called Messi. Fortunately he is Argentine,” said Sabella after the Iran match.

“Everybody would have liked to have Messi but it is us who have him.”

Argentina will hope to underline their credentials as potential champions with an improved display against Nigeria, and Sabella will have to decide whether to make changes.

He has no new injury worries and may be tempted to give a few players a rest, but is more likely to give the likes of Sergio Aguero and Angel Di Maria another chance to find form and go in with a similar starting XI.

Nigeria are also expected to be unchanged following a 1-0 victory against Bosnia, which has put them on the brink of a place in the knockout stages.

Victor Moses and Godfrey Oboabona have had injuries and are unlikely to be considered by manager Stephen Keshi for places in the starting team.

Nigeria have four points from their first two matches and even if they lose in Porto Alegre they will still progress to the next round if Iran fail to beat Bosnia.

Peter Odemwingie netted the winner against Bosnia and is relishing the prospect of taking on a side like Argentina.

He told FIFA’s official website: “I earned myself a starting position and it was important to work hard to keep it, especially before a big game like Argentina, which is a dream for every player to play in.”

Paul Merson’s prediction

Argentina have been terrible. I don’t know what is happening in their camp, but something’s up. I didn’t see Lionel Messi or Pablo Zabaleta pass to each other against Iran and while Messi scored a worldy at the end, his performance was below Premier League standard.

I think Nigeria will cause Argentina’s poor defence problems with their pace up front, so I am going for a draw.

Paul predicts: 1-1

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