30 June, 2014 - 11:09

World Cup. The round of 16. France vs Nigeria preview

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Group stage. France

Prior to the start of the tournament few pundits considered France as the favourites. Especially after Franck Ribery had been ruled out with injury. However, after successful group stage Les Blues turned into one of the title contenders. They cruised past Honduras 3-0 and Switzerland 5-2, and were in power saving mode against Ecuador. France finished first in the group and escaped a potential clash with Argentina.

Group stage. Nigeria

The Super Eagles should thank New Zealand referees for letting them finish above Bosnia and Herzegovina. The linesman flagged off Edin Dzeko’s on-side goal which saw Nigeria win a crucial clash by 1-0. Adding those three points to a goalless draw with Iran, the African team squeezed to the round of 16 with four points. However, in their last group match against Argentina, Stephen Keshi’s men showed some attacking flair and resilience and were close to taking at least a point from Messi and co. If they repeat that performance against France, they could make a miracle.

Preparation

Just like the other African teams, Nigeria could not but get involved in money scandal. The players ignored Friday training claiming to had not received the bonuses due to paid for getting out of the group.

Les Bleus had to face a totally different problem. Muslim players intended to observe the beginning of Ramadan and get involved in fasting. Luckily, team’s doctors managed to persuade them to refrain from religious habits during The World Cup.

Mamadou Sakho might miss the match with an injury. However,Laurent Koscielny is ready to replace him. Michael Babatunde is definitely out for Nigeria.

History

The teams only played once, on 2 June 2009. Nigeria won a friendly match by 1-0 courtesy of Joseph Akpala strike.

Bookmakers

William Hill have few doubts in France victory: 1,50 against 7,00 for Nigeria.

Provisional squads

FRANCE: Lloris, Debuchy, Sakho, Varane, Evra, Pogba, Cabaye, Matuidi, Valbuena, Griezmann, Benzema.
NIGERIA: Enyeama, Ambrose, Omeru, Oboabona, Oshaniwa, Onazi, Mikel, Odemwingie, Azeez, Musa, Emenike.

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