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PostPosted: Wed Jun 13, 2018 7:37 pm 
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Joined: Sun Jul 18, 2004 1:22 pm
Posts: 2747
World Cup 2018 team preview: Nigeria's young stars get first chance to shine

Our writers say: The Super Eagles reached a fifth World Cup in six editions by strolling through qualifying. They’ve yet to make it past the Round of 16, and this probably won’t be the team to do it either. There is some promising young talent, but the rest of the squad is mediocre, as are Nigeria’s chances. — Leander Schaerlaeckens

Manager: Gernot Rohr
Captain: John Obi Mikel (M)
Top players: Alex Iwobi (F), Victor Moses (M), Wilfred Ndidi (M)
Full 23-man squad


Why they’ll win games: The attack, no matter who starts or what form it takes, will be potent. There is pace throughout it. Moses offers the drive. Iwobi offers the quality. And Mikel, though on the downswing of his career, is still strong in a playmaking role for Nigeria.

Why they’ll lose games: The team gets progressively weaker as you go front to back. The midfield gets stretched far too easily, and though it is still a strength, Ndidi’s recent hamstring injury is a major worry. Without him, protection for the back four might be insufficient.

How they’ll play: Mikel plays in front of two ball-winners – Ndidi and likely Ogenyi Onazi – in midfield, and conducts the attack. But the Super Eagles are, by far, most dangerous on the counter. They’ll open up and hurl numbers forward when opportunity arises.

Projected lineup (4-3-3): Ikechukwu Ezenwa; Shehu Abdullahi, William Troost-Ekong, Leon Balogun, Bryan Idowu; Wilfred Ndidi, Ogenyi Onazi, John Obi Mikel; Victor Moses, Odion Ighalo, Alex Iwobi.
John Ogu and Joel Obi are also options in midfield. The former started the final warmup friendly ahead of Onazi amid media reports of a rift between Onazi and Mikel. But Onazi should still start.

Rooting Guide
What makes them unique: The Nigerian federation has had several squabbles with its players over World Cup bonus payments in the past.
There’ll be no repeat of the chaos in 2018, though. The NFF has reportedly compensated both players and coaches months before the tournament this time around.

Why to root for them:
My goodness, they are fun. So much fun. There’s flair and speed and players who simply enjoy playing attacking soccer.

Why to root against them:
There’s very high disappointment potential. And that joy sometimes doesn’t bubble to the surface. The high-ceiling, low-floor designation means there’s a decent chance they get your hopes up, then lay an egg in the final group game or the Round of 16.

If you’re going to watch one game … Nigeria beat Argentina 4-2 in a November friendly, so that last group game seems like a good bet, as long as it’s not a so-called dead rubber – a meaningless game, with the fates of both teams already decided. ... 29378.html

PostPosted: Wed Jun 13, 2018 7:42 pm 
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Joined: Sun Jul 18, 2004 1:22 pm
Posts: 2747
MAke i add Croatio own :

We need to beat them as they too know they need to beat us :

World Cup appearance: 13th (8 as Yugoslavia)
Best World Cup finish: 3rd place (1930 as Yugoslavia, 1998)
2014 finish: Group stage (1-0-2)
Qualifying: Finished second behind Iceland in Group I, beat Greece in playoff
Schedule: Nigeria (Saturday, June 16, 3 p.m., FS1), Argentina (Thursday, June 21, 2 p.m., Fox), Iceland (Tuesday, June 26, 2 p.m., Fox/FS1)

[Group D preview]


Manager: Zlatko Dalic
Captain: Luka Modric (M)
Top players: Modric, Ivan Rakitic (M), Ivan Perisic (M), Marcelo Brozovic (M), Mateo Kovacic (M), Mario Mandzukic (F)
Full 23-man squad


Why they’ll win games: Just look at the players in the projected starting lineup.
Or, if you’re unfamiliar with the names, look at their clubs: Monaco; Atletico Madrid, Lokomotiv Moscow, Liverpool, Sampdoria; Fiorentina, Barcelona, Real Madrid; Inter Milan, Hoffenheim, Juventus. There’s a Real Madrid, a Napoli, a Bayer Leverkusen, a Hoffenheim, a Fiorentina and an Everton on the bench. Croatia, especially in midfield, is immensely talented for a team not widely considered a contender.

Why they’ll lose games:
There’s a reason it’s not considered a contender, though. There’s a reason it couldn’t finish above Iceland in qualifying. Its attack, at times, can be weirdly disjointed. There’s no defined identity or tactical approach. Those are the exact type of problems that could leave Croatia vulnerable to Nigeria’s potent counter or Iceland’s resolute defensive blockade (again).

How they’ll play:
Through midfield and out to Perisic, with Mandzukic or Andrej Kramaric acting almost as a wide striker, similar to the role both have played at their clubs. And finally, there’s a defined midfield structure, with Modric pushing more into a traditional No. 10 role, Rakitic creating from deep and Milan Badelj sitting beside him. Croatia is often wary about pressing too high, however, for fear of exposing an aging center back pairing.

Projected lineup (4-3-3):
Danijel Subasic; Sime Vrsaljko, Vedran Corluka, Dejan Lovren, Ivan Strinic; Milan Badelj, Ivan Rakitic, Luka Modric; Ivan Perisic, Andrej Kramaric, Mario Mandzukic.

There are a few things up in the air here.
The midfield, long a vexing proposition, doesn’t appear to be one of them. Brozovic and Kovacic will have to settle for places on the bench. (Because Modric has settled into the more advanced role, you’ll often see the formation described as a 4-2-3-1.)

In defense, Lovren seems like the only sure-fire starter. Vrsaljko could play on the right or left. Demagoj Vida, the odd man out in our projection above, is a center back but could also deputize at fullback. Corluka has battled injuries and general physical deterioration, but has started both warmup friendlies and appears set to partner Lovren. Strinic could be dropped if Vrsaljko slides to the left and Vida fills in at right back.

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