With one nation finally flying in the FIFA World Cup and one nation looking at an unlikely exit, Nigeria and Argentina come into this crucial group stage tie with totally differing expectations. Seen as a team that would exit the World Cup without much issue, Nigeria now know they are a win away from going to the World Cup knockout rounds.
If Argentina want to get to the knockouts they need to produce a performance totally out of kilter with what they have produced so far.
The Super Eagles come into this one knowing that they need to produce something special. Despite Argentina not playing well, Nigeria play such an open style that they’ll need to be fluid up front and solid at the back.
With the likes of Ahmed Musa, who has history of playing well against Argentina, they know they have the pace to trouble a very poor Argentina back-line. However, their naivety at the back and their willingness to pour forward in numbers will have to be kept in check.
Argentina, meanwhile, need to find something. The constantly changing line-ups and formations, mixed with a national side that simply does not look like an Argentina side means that they need to locate a winning formula to get through.
Coach Jorge Sampaoli has struggled, though, struggles to find any kind of consistency. He’s never named the same line-up as Argentina coach. With Lionel Messi looking pretty haunted, it will be interesting to see how they get it together for what is to come.
We reckon Argentina will find a way – but it’s merely papering over the cracks. They’ll likely not find a winning formula for the rest of the tournament, and progression here will merely delay what is an inevitable exit.
Argentina to win 1/2