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World Cup

  • June 30, 2014
  • • 17:00
  • • Estádio Nacional de Brasília, Brasília, Distrito Federal
  • Referee: M. Geiger
  • • Attendance: 67882
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France - Nigeria Preview: Les Bleus in form to down Super Eagles

France - Nigeria Preview: Les Bleus in form to down Super Eagles

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Didier Deschamps' side cruised through the group stage and will fancy their chances against the Africans despite a couple of injury concerns

By Stefan Coerts in Brasilia

France coach Didier Deschamps used his side’s final group stage game against Ecuador to rest a number of regular starters, yet he’s not fully without injury worries ahead of Monday’s second round encounter with Nigeria.

Liverpool defender Mamadou Sakho escaped punishment for his elbow against the South Americans, yet seems likely to miss out on the game versus Nigeria after all due to injury. The former Paris Saint-Germain centre-back is struggling with a hamstring problem and Deschamps is unlikely to take any risks.

With Laurent Koscielny recovering from an Achilles tendon injury, Eliaquim Mangala could get the nod at centre-back alongside Raphael Varane.

Furthermore, Paul Pogba and Moussa Sissoko will both be hopeful of starting in midfield, with the Juventus star currently sitting in pole position to feature from the first whistle.

Meanwhile, Nigeria coach Stephen Keshi has some injury problems of his own after the narrow 3-2 loss to Argentina in his side’s final group fixture.

Midfielder Michael Babatunde sustained a freak arm injury in that game and is unlikely to return to full fitness before the end of the tournament. Additionally, there are still doubts over the fitness of Victor Moses, who has made just one appearance so far due to a muscular problem.

Moses could take Babatunde’s place in the starting XI, but Michael Uchebo remains an option as well after coming off the bench against Argentina.

Up front, Keshi is likely to put his faith in Peter Odemwingie, Emmanuel Emenike and Ahmed Musa once more as Nigeria have set their sights on reaching the quarter-finals for the first time in their history.

Players to watch

K. Benzema

Position: Attacker

Games: 5

  • 3
  • 0
  • 0
The Real Madrid attacker has been his side’s main focal point in attack so far in Brazil and is arguably one of the stars of the tournament, netting three goals and providing two assists. With a bit more luck, Benzema could have scored even more and he will fancy his chance of adding to his tally to guide les Bleus to the quarter-finals.

A. Musa

Position: Attacker

Games: 4

  • 2
  • 0
  • 0
The CSKA Moscow attacker showed what he’s capable of with a fine performance against Argentina in the group stages, scoring twice to equal Lionel Messi’s efforts that game. Musa has the pace and dribbling skills to cause any defender a difficult match and the winger will be hopeful of adding his name to the score sheet once more.

Editor's Prediction

France needed a play-off tie with Ukraine to qualify for the World Cup, but Didier Deschamps’ men have since made enormous progress. They really impressed against Honduras and Switzerland and will be high on confidence heading into Monday’s game. Nigeria struggled against Iran and Bosnia-Herzegovina irrespective of the positive results in those two games before producing a better performance versus Argentina. It’s hard to see past the French in this encounter, however, and the Europeans are the favourites to make it to the quarter-finals.

Last Five Matches

Head To Head

France

Nigeria

Wins
1
0
1
Wins

Betting & Predictions

Reader's Predictions

France FRA
France France
Draw
Nigeria NGA
Nigeria Nigeria
50%
44%

Top 3 Predictions

France FRA
1 - 2
Nigeria NGA
France FRA
2 - 1
Nigeria NGA
France FRA
3 - 1
Nigeria NGA

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