France v Nigeria Preview

Round of 16 | Monday 30 June | Estádio Nacional de Brasilia, Brasília | 18:00




European giants France take on African champions Nigeria on Monday night in the second round of the 2014 World Cup. France will be looking to return to the form they showed in their opening two games, thrashing Honduras and Switzerland, while the Nigerians will be hoping to reach the quarter-finals for the first time in their history.

To Win (90mins)
France 5/10 
Draw 3/1
Nigeria 53/10

FRANCE

France drew 0-0 with 10-man Ecuador on Wednesday to advance to the last 16 of the World Cup at the top of their group, while the South Americans will be going home from the tournament.

Les Bleus came into the match having played some of the most exciting football of the group stage, scoring eight goals while beating Honduras and Switzerland in their first two matches.

But with qualification—and first place in the group—all but assured, manager Didier Deschamps rested some key regulars against Ecuador, including playmaker Mathieu Valbuena and striker Olivier Giroud (the latter entered the match as a second-half substitute).

The result of the changes was obvious, as France were held scoreless for the first time in Brazil. But regardless of Wednesday's offensive performance, Les Bleus will enter the knockout stages as one of the teams to watch.

Karim Benzema is well and truly seizing his chance to impress having scored three goals so far in this World Cup. The French No. 10 is finally delivering for Les Bleus after years of underperforming and his renaissance is one of the reasons why France have have looked so deadly in this tournament.

Defensive midfielder Blaise Matuidi is one of the most valuable members of the France team. A tireless runner with tremendous stamina, he is also a tenacious tackler and a careful passer.

He rarely does anything flashy, but his ability to keep things simple has proved invaluable for French champion Paris Saint-Germain and the national team over the past two seasons.

One player who has yet to reach his full potential is Juventus star, Paul Pogba. However, when at his best, he is a joy to watch and remains a key figure for France.

He’s graceful, athletic, solid in tackles and an excellent passer while also having a brilliant eye for goal. 

NIGERIA

Nigeria scraped through behind already-qualified Argentina, becoming the first African team to reach the last 16 at this tournament.

Many teams change their tactics when they come up against one of the "big" nations, such as Argentina. Not Nigeria, though, who refused to simply sit back and soak up pressure.

The Africans were not averse to getting men behind the ball when Argentina were in possession, but nor were they afraid to attack with gusto, and in numbers.

Rather than going into their shells when Messi scored early, Nigeria swept forward and struck back immediately.

The vigour with which Nigeria took on one of the tournament favourites proves they deserve their spot in the knockout stages of Brazil 2014.

African teams have not had the best World Cup overall, but the Super Eagles have shown more intent and more promise than group opponents Bosnia and Herzegovina and Iran.

Scoring twice against Argentina indicates they are a side who can trouble anyone in the competition. The man to watch will be Ahmed Musa.

The zippy No. 7 put in a classic World Cup performance of his own for the Super Eagles against Argentina. Both of his goals were excellent, and both depended on an element of surprise.

This will be the second time Nigeria and France meet with their last match ending in a 1-0 vitcory for Nigeria in 2009.

Betting Prediction: FRANCE 3/1
The Super Eagles have played with hunger and determination since disappointing in their opening game against Iran. France failed to beat Ecuador in their final group game and the Nigerian’s could give them an even sterner test. The draw at 3/1 looks a healthy bet. 

Written by Chadley Nagel for @Hollywoodbets. Follow them both on Twitter and Facebook now! 

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