By Anis Bazza
Last Updated: 26th June 2018
Tuesday 26th June
Kick-off: 7:00pm BST
Stadium: St Petersburg, St Petersburg Stadium
Nigeria vs Argentina, permutations of Group D
Croatia have qualified and a point against Iceland would confirm them as Group D winners.
Nigeria sit on three points while Argentina have one, meaning a draw would take them to the next round providing Iceland do not beat Croatia.
La Albiceleste will qualify with a victory over the Super Eagles if Iceland fail to defeat Croatia. If Iceland do beat Croatia then the South Americans will have to score two more goals than the Scandinavians in their win.
If Argentina and Iceland win and finish with identical records then their fate will be decided by their disciplinary records and then the drawing of lots. Argentina have picked up three yellow cards and Iceland none so far.
Nigeria’s odds of qualifying currently stand at 7/4.
Nigeria vs Argentina odds
Argentina are at 8/15 favourites to beat Nigeria in the match betting odds. The Super Eagles are 5/1 to win whilst a draw is priced up at 16/5.
Lionel Messi is favourite to score first at 13/5, whilst Ahmed Musa – who scored both goals against Iceland – is 9/1.
There has already been six own goals at this stage of the tournament. An own-goal at any time in the Argentina vs Nigeria game is 6/1.
Nigeria vs Argentina team news
Nigeria fielded a 3-5-2 formation in their convincing 2-0 victory over Iceland and could name an unchanged line-up.
Sergio Aguero’s recent goal against Iceland was the first time in over 600 days that any Argentina goal wasn’t either scored or assisted by Lionel Messi. However, social media rumours suggest that Argentina coach Jorge Sampaoli will drop Aguero after he publicly slated him in a post-match interview.
Other reports claim that the Argentina players have banded together against Sampaoli and will remarkably decide who plays themselves.
World Cup winner Ricardo Giusti has claimed that Argentinian Football Association director Jorge Burruchaga said the players would be consulted for the Nigeria game.
Willy Cabellero, who committed a horrible mistake for Croatia’s opening goal, is likely to be replaced regardless of which rumour you want to believe.
He could be replaced by Tigres UANL goalkeeper Nahuel Guzmán or River Plate’s Franco Armani.
“If I get the chance to play, I’ll be ready and psyched,” Armani said at Monday’s pre-match press conference – alongside Sampaoli.
“What happened to Caballero is normal. It can happen to anyone. Each one has had to live through similar moments.”
Elsewhere, Angel Di Maria and Ever Banega could be recalled into Argentina’s starting line-up.
Nigeria vs Argentina match stats
Argentina have faced Nigeria eight times, four of which coming at the World Cup finals. The South Americans won all four matches. The two teams did however face off most recently in November 2017 with the Super Eagles coming out on top 4-2.
On a run of four games without a victory at the World Cup, Argentina are enduring their longest winless streak in this competition. Nigeria however have never beaten a non-European side at the World Cup.
Lionel Messi has had 12 shots at this tournament so far but is yet to score a goal. He’s had eight more attempts than any other La Albiceleste player.
Nigeria vs Argentina key players to watch
Alex Iwobi will be hoping for a repeat of his last performance against Argentina when he scored a brace. He is 16/5 to score anytime.
Lionel Messi dragged his nation to the World Cup with a hat-trick against Ecuador back in October and all eyes will be on the Barcelona star to see if he can do the same against Nigeria. He can be backed to score two or more goals at odds of 13/10.
Messi has 14 goals in his last 18 games for Argentina but has failed to score with his last 22 shots at World Cup finals.
Gonzalo Higuain is likely to usurp Sergio Aguero and start after making two substitute appearances so far.