Argentina will head into this match with plenty of confidence considering they have an imperious record over Nigeria at the World Cup. It’s quite astonishing that the two teams have been placed in the same group five times in the last seven tournaments, and Nigeria certainly won’t have been happy to be pooled alongside them yet again.
Yet this could be Nigeria’s big chance. They were impressive against Iceland and Argentina have been woeful so far in this tournament. Lionel Messi missed a penalty in their first match, a rare feat, and they were simply dreadful against Croatia, resorting to dirty tactics during the latter stages. Can Argentina do enough to reverse this form slump and rise from the ashes like they did in qualifying?
Croatia are the runaway leaders in Group D, and each of the other three teams including Nigeria and Argentina will have a genuine chance of finishing second in the group. Nigeria’s fate is in their own hands – win and they’re home, or draw and they are almost certainly through. Argentina must win and hope Iceland doesn’t beat Croatia. It could also come down to goal difference, so goals are crucial.
Despite Argentina’s poor form, they are still clear favourites in this one, and on paper they should breeze past the Nigerians. But the game isn’t played on paper, and Nigeria realistically only need a draw. Argentina have the players to break down a defensive unit though, and we think that they can do it.
Argentina will enter at -183, while the draw is a decent pick and available for +355, and Nigeria is at outsider rates of +412 for the unlikely victory. We’re sticking with the Argentines regardless of the context, and tipping a 1-0 win. We will have to wait and see if that is enough for them to progress.