Can Nigeria Shock Argentina?

Next in our Dates to Remember feature is the Group D match between Nigeria and Argentina on the 26th day of June

Date: 26 June

Time: 21:00 (Nig time)

Stadium:

Group: D

Twenty four years ago, Nigeria and Argentina met in the group stages of the 1994 World Cup in the USA, as the La Albiceleste won 2-1.

The first side from Africa to reach Russia, Nigeria continue their impressive run of appearances at the finals, having missed only one tournament – Germany 2006 – since qualifying for their debut in 1994

The current generation around superstar Lionel Messi will be hoping to emulate that result this year, as expectations for the team soar high above those of Nigeria.

Both teams will already have played Group D opponents Croatia and Iceland when they meet each other, with the Argies favourites to come out on top of the group.

Though expectations for Nigeria will be lower than in past years, the Super Eagles will still be hoping to make it out of the group with help from the likes of John Obi Mikel, Ahmed Musa, Victor Moses, Alex Iwobi, Wilfred Ndidi and Oghenekaro Etebo.

However, Nigeria’s defence may have difficulty containing Argentina’s fire power around Messi, Dybala, Banega and Aguero.

In four meetings at the Mundial, the Argentines have won all against the three-time African champions.

The Super Eagles’ 4-2 friendly win over Argentina in 2017 will give them hope ahead of the tournament.

Musa’s experience will be needed as he grabbed a brace against Argentina in that 3-2 in the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

Nigeria had been here before. Since making their debut in 1994, only one trip to the World Cup had not featured a locking of horns with their South American tormentors-in-chief, Argentina. France 1998 was the Super Eagles’ only respite, with a defeat to La Albiceleste a regular feature of their tournaments otherwise.

This, unfortunately for them, was to be no different. However, they certainly gave the eventual finalists a run for their money, with only a staggering strike by Messi separating them at the final whistle in a memorable topsy-turvy game.

With the two set to meet again at Russia 2018, Nigeria will be hoping that a slight redesign of this blueprint could end their four-game losing streak in Saint Petersburg.

Depending on the results of the previous matches, this game could be a decider for who goes through and who goes home.

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