Nigeria and Argentina are set to meet in what is a huge encounter in Group D on Tuesday night. The African nation know that a victory will guarantee them a place in the last 16, regardless of what happens in the other game between Croatia and Iceland. Whereas, La Albiceleste know even a win against Nigeria may not be enough, although they would be unfortunate to bow out with all three points.
Either way, it makes for a fascinating final group game and both sides will be confident of progressing. The Super Eagles will have seen just how bad Argentina are and will relish the chance to take on the South Americans given the pressure they are under. Meanwhile, Jorge Sampaoli’s men know they should really be out but results went their way on Friday which means they still have a realistic chance of qualifying.
Here we will give you Nigeria vs Argentina betting tips, look at where the game will be won, the key players and a Nigeria vs Argentina prediction for the Group D encounter.
Our Nigeria vs Argentina Prediction: Nigeria 1-3 Argentina
Our Nigeria vs Argentina prediction tips is for the South Americans to finally get things right and secure a win that will be inspired by Lionel Messi.
Nigeria were very slow starters and were awful in their 2-0 defeat against Croatia, and they weren’t much better in the first half against Iceland. However, they really picked up after the break, looking dangerous on the counter, comfortable in possession and had the best player on the pitch in Ahmed Musa. That will give them confidence against an Argentinian side who are in disarray.
The fallout from Argentina’s 3-0 hammering to Croatia has been severe. Sampaoli’s job was under threat and some reports suggested Javier Mascherano is essentially operating as the boss now. Whatever the situation, they will be delighted they are still in with a chance of progressing and they have to take that opportunity.
Our recommended tip – Over 2.5 goals
It’s very hard to back Argentina after what we have seen in the first two games so whilst we think they will win, goals is the safer bet.
Fans of the South American nation will hope Croatia was their rock-bottom and the only way is up, as they really were a shambles. Sampaoli has to take a lot of blame for that as his team selection and tactics were disgraceful and meant Messi had no service. Ever Banega, who simply has to start, would change that and it could be all the little genius needs to get up and running. Yet, their defence is still likely to concede and if Iceland are winning against Croatia, Argentina will need to outscore them to finish second, so the game is sure to be open and we could see goals.
The clash in Saint Petersburg is just the latest in Argentina-Nigeria games at the World Cup. They’ve played four games on the biggest stage, including the last two tournaments, with Argentina winning every match. However, Nigeria beat them 4-2 when they met in a friendly just seven months ago.
Nigeria have only really played well for 45 minutes in Russia but they did look impressive. The first game went against them but it was a boring encounter and they looked toothless against Iceland until the second period. Yet, the pace of Musa and Kelechi Iheanacho was too much for the European side and you could envisage serious problems for the high Argentina line.
For La Albiceleste, it’s the tournament of nightmares. Lionel Messi hasn’t performed, the rest of the side look atrocious and it’s a miracle they aren’t out already. There has been nothing positive to say from their 180 minutes of action so far, the only hope is that they surely can’t be as bad again.
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Players to watch – Ahmed Musa & Lionel Messi
The Leicester City striker is really quick and his pace could come in handy against a very shaky Argentina defence, who will give him space to exploit. He came into the side for the last game and provided them with that cutting edge they were missing and will be on a high after his matchwinning performance and two goals last time out.
The Barcelona man needs to carry Argentina like he has in the past because without him his nation are average to say the least. Messi’s ability is unquestionable and he will hope an XI is picked that will enable him to get the ball quickly and do real damage in the final third as they were just unable to give him any reasonable service at all on Thursday.