World Cup 2018: Nigeria vs Argentina - preview, team news, predicted XI, head to head and key stats
Its Do or Die for La Albiceleste as they face off against Nigeria in must-win Group D encounter. It's not been the best of times for the 2-time former champions who started off their World Cup campaign in a lacklustre draw against a much determined Iceland side in a match which saw their talisman Messi missing another penalty kick from the spot.
The following match saw Argentina being humbled 3-0 by an impressive Croatian side which saw La Albiceleste on the brink of elimination. If not for their next opponents Nigeria, winning their match against Iceland, Argentina would've been eliminated from this World Cup. Anything less than a victory will see Argentina being knocked out of the group stages in World Cup for the first time since 2002.
Nigeria started off their World Cup campaign with an underwhelming performance against a Croatian side which saw them lose 2-0 in their opening match of the tournament. The next match for the Nigerians saw the complete opposite of what we saw in the first game against Croatia as they recorded an impressive 2-0 victory over Iceland, buoyed by keeping an Argentina side to a draw, courtesy of 2 Ahmed Musa goals in the second half. A point will see the Green Falcons qualifying to the Round of 16 for the second year in a row unless Iceland defeats Croatia by a goal margin of more than 2.
It has been a tumultuous last few days for La Albiceleste with reports of rifts between the coach and the players. Willy Caballero is set to be dropped by Sampaoli, after his horrendous mistakes against Croatia that saw Argentina conceding their first goal of the match, and is expected to be replaced by River Plate goalkeeper Franco Armani.
Angel Di Maria and Ever Banega could be recalled to the starting XI after a lacklustre performance in the previous match by the Argentinian midfield, while Gonzalo Higuain and Paolo Dybala are also available.
Gernot Rohr is expected to name an unchanged 11 against Argentina.
Nigerian captain John Obi Mikel is likely to wear a cast on his left hand after fracturing it against Iceland but will need to get the all-clear from the match official to wear the protective material.
Argentina predicted XI: Franco Armani, Eduardo Salvio, Gabriel Mercado, Nicolas Otamendi, Nicolas Tagliafico, Ever Banega, Javier Mascherano, Enzo Perez, Angel Di Maria, Lionel Messi, Gonzalo Higuain.
Nigeria predicted XI: Francis Uzoho, Kenneth Omeruo, William Ekong, Leon Balogun, Tyronne Ebuehi, Wilfred Ndidi, John Obi Mikel, Oghenekaro Etebo, Victor Moses, Kelechi Iheanacho, Ahmed Musa.
Head to Head Stats
This will be the 9th meeting between Argentina and Nigeria with 4 of the 8 meetings between them coming up in the World Cup with Argentina registering a victory in all the 4 games.
It was Nigerians who came up with a 4-2 victory the last time these two teams met in 2017.
In each of the previous 4, World Cups Nigeria has been drawn alongside Argentina.
Some stats to look forward to in this encounter
All six of the victories by Nigeria has come up against European opponents and they are yet to win against a non-European opponent.
The last time Nigeria won back to back World Cup matches was in 1998 when they defeated Belgium and Spain in their first two matches
The only previous time Argentina have failed to win a game at a World Cup was in 1934 when the tournament was a straight knock-out and are yet to record back to back defeats in the group stages of the World Cup.
Argentina has never exited the World Cup without registering a win.
Lionel Messi has failed to score with his last 22 shots in matches at World Cup.
Argentina vs Nigeria, Group D:
Match Date: 26 June 2018, Tuesday
Match Timing: 23:30 IST
Match Venue: St Petersburg Stadium, St Petersburg, Russia