Nigeria - Spain Preview: World champions look to seal last-four berth
La Roja need just one point from their final group match to guarantee progress to the semi-finals, while the Super Eagles must equal or better Uruguay's result against Tahiti
By Karthick Arvinth
Nigeria midfielder Ogenyi Onazi will not be involved in Sunday's crunch clash against Spain in Fortaleza because of a knee injury.
Coach Stephen Keshi confirmed this week that the Lazio player will stay back in Nigeria for treatment after previously expressing optimism that he could be fit in time to feature in the tournament.
Winger Nnamdi Oduamadi is a doubt after picking up a knock in the defeat against Uruguay, while striker Ideye Brown could keep his place in the starting XI ahead of Anthony Ujah.
Spain are expected to recall several of their key players after fielding a largely second-string team against Tahiti.
Roberto Soldado may be preferred as the central striker ahead of Fernando Torres and David Villa, who shared seven goals between them in the 10-0 hammering of the Pacific islanders, having sat out following the 2-1 win over the Copa American winners.
|DID YOU KNOW?|
- Nigeria have only won two of their last six international fixtures (W2, D3, L1). However, the 2-1 defeat to Uruguay on Thursday ended a 19-match unbeaten run.
- The Super Eagles' only previous competitive encounter with Spain ended in a 3-2 victory in the group stage of the 1998 World Cup.
- John Obi Mikel (pictured, right) made his 50th appearance for Nigeria in the defeat against Uruguay, crowning the landmark with a goal.
- Spain are on a five-game winning run and are unbeaten in their last 24 matches.
- La Roja last faced African opponents in the previous edition of the Confederations Cup in 2009. They beat host nation South Africa 3-2 in the third-place play-off.
- Only a defeat by four goals or more against Nigeria would put Spain at risk of elimination from the tournament.
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Top 3 Predictions
Nigeria 2-1 Spain
- 12.54 %
Nigeria 1-3 Spain
- 11.77 %
Nigeria 0-3 Spain
- 10.42 %
|World - FIFA Confederations Cup (FCC)||23 Jun 2013||Nigeria 0 - Spain 3|
|6 Mar 2014||Mexico 0 - Nigeria 0||FR|
|1 Feb 2014||Zimbabwe 0 - Nigeria 1||CHAN|
|29 Jan 2014||Nigeria 0 - Ghana 0||CHAN|
|25 Jan 2014||Nigeria 4 - Morocco 3||CHAN|
|19 Jan 2014||Nigeria 3 - South Africa 1||CHAN|
|3||Uwa Elderson Echiejile||Defender|
|10||John Obi Mikel||Midfielder|
|-||John Ogochukwu Ogu|
|6||Andrés Iniesta Luján||Midfielder|
|22||Jesús Navas González||Midfielder|
|John Obi Mikel|
The sturdy midfielder enhanced his reputation further with a typically industrious performance against Uruguay, capping it with a well-taken goal in the first half. Mikel's defensive qualities will be tested to the limit against Spain, whose possession-heavy style of football could prove intimidating to many in the Nigerian ranks.
The Valencia forward was something of a surprise inclusion in Vicente del Bosque's 23-man squad for the tournament, despite scoring 30 goals for his club in all competitions last season. Soldado scored what proved to be the winner in the opening match against Uruguay, and he will aim to continue his scoring form into the backend of the competition.
Nigeria require a bit of miracle to qualify for the semi-finals, seeing as they most likely will have to beat Spain and beat them well to keep their goal difference ahead of Uruguay. The Spanish will go out to win the group in style and book a mouth-watering semi-final date against either Italy or Brazil.
Live Final scheduled Suspended Cancelled Postponed