Nigeria and Argentina will both be going all out for a win in their final Group D fixture of the 2018 World Cup on Tuesday with a spot in the last 16 on offer.
2018 World Cup
26 June 2018
Kick-off: 02:00 HKT (27 June)
Venue: Saint-Petersburg Stadium
Referee: C. Cakir
Assistants: B. Duran, T. Ongun
Argentina 2-4 Nigeria (Friendly) 14/11/2017
Argentina goalscorers: E. Banega (27′), S. Aguero (36′)
Nigeria goalscorers: L. Iheanacho (44′), A. Iwobi (52′, 73′), B. Idowu (54′)
Players to watch:
English Premier League stars Victor Moses and Kelechi Iheanacho are key players for the Super Eagles, but Ahmed Musa is the man who has had the most impact for the team at the tournament thus far. The striker netted a brace on Friday as Nigeria beat Iceland 2-0. Perhaps it’s a sign of things to come for the 25-year-old.
Argentine supporters pinned their hopes on their global superstar Lionel Messi to do the business in Russia, but the talisman has thus far failed to deliver. Perhaps the likes of Sergio Aguero, who scored against Iceland, could inspire the South Americans to victory with some individual brilliance.
Team form and manager quotes:
The Super Eagles are flying high after a convincing 2-0 win over Iceland, which saw Musa bag a brace, but their job is far from over. The West Africans are second in the group but may still need a win to advance to the last 16, depending on the result between Croatia and Iceland.
Nigeria head coach Gernot Rohr told the official FIFA website: “Despite the huge pressure of expectation, it’s important that the joy of participating at a World Cup remains tangible in every training session. It’s easy to show solidarity when you win but your real character only comes out when you lose.
“If you have a young team then you have to be patient and accept that mistakes will happen because they’re part and parcel of the game. Even between our first and second games I could see a learning process taking place. The team will get better again in the third match.”
Argentina have fallen short of expectations at the World Cup thus far. They were held to a 1-1 draw by Iceland, in a game that saw Messi fail to find the back of the net from the penalty spot, before being humbled 3-0 by a well-organised Croatia.
La Albiceleste now require a win to stand a chance of qualifying for the knockout stages. However, should Iceland also win, the race for second place in the group would come down to goal difference.
As Argentina prepare for the all-important clash, the situation in their camp appears to be grim. Reports have claimed that the players no longer support head coach Jorge Sampaoli and that it could have an effect on the starting XI that is chosen for the Nigeria tie.
Nigeria have no new injury troubles and could field an unchanged starting line-up after the impressive win over Iceland.
Sampaoli’s team selection for the game remains uncertain after unrest in the Argentina camp suggested that the players may have more of a say than the manager would like.