France vs Nigeria
World Cup second round
Estádio Nacional de Brasilia
17:00 kick off
France face Nigeria on Monday afternoon as the overwhelming favourites to reach the quarter-final of the World Cup, with the two sides set to contest their last 16 encounter at the Estádio Nacional de Brasilia.
Didier Deschamps has expressed concerns that the heat in the capital city of Brazil will cause problems, with temperatures likely to be upwards of 30 degrees Celsius by the time the two sides kick-off.
Sunday’s game between the Netherlands and Mexico, in which the former won 2-1 in stoppage time, was the first of the World Cup to make use of ‘cooling breaks’ and it may well be the same happens in the third tie of the second round.
However, Les Bleus are still odds-on to dispatch Nigeria, which is as much to do with the former’s march to the knockout phase as it is the weakness of their African opponents.
France were able to plunder eight goals in their opening two fixtures in Group E; first brushing aside Honduras 3-0, before hitting five past Switzerland - their supposed rivals to reach the next round at the top of the table.
They did end the first phase with a 0-0 draw with Ecuador, but Deschamps would have been relatively content with the performance. France had 13 shots on target in that game, and still looked a serious threat going forward.
Much of this has been down to Karim Benzema, who fired three goals and provided two assists in his first two outings. It could have been five goals were it not for a missed penalty and a strike ruled out by the referee’s full-time whistle.
Along with Benzema, Deschamps has a wealth of attacking options to choose from, and it was the formation of his frontline that has been creating the most interest ahead of the meeting with Nigeria.
Nigeria on the up
Nigeria started their campaign poorly, with the performance in the 0-0 draw with Iran suggesting they had little prospects of making it out of a group containing Argentina and Bosnia Herzegovina.
The Super Eagles were, however, able to earn a fortunate win over the latter, which was thanks substantially to goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama, who recorded more saves in the group stage than any other player.
Nigeria lost their final game against Argentina, but there was enough in that game to suggest they can pose a threat going forward against France, who have had issues at the back due to injury.
France XI: Lloris (c), Debuchy, Varane, Koscielny, Evra, Cabaye, Matuidi, Pogba, Valbuena, Giroud, Benzema.
Nigeria XI: Enyeama, Yobo (c), Ambrose, Oshaniwa, Musa, Emenike, Mikel, Onazi, Moses, Omeruo, Odemwingie.
Deschamps rings the changes
Mamadou Sakho tweaked a hamstring against Ecuador last Wednesday and he misses out, with Laurent Koscielny the favoured partner in central defence alongside Raphael Varane.
Meanwhile, Yohan Cabaye returns from suspension and replaces Morgan Schneiderlin in the centre of the France midfield and, as expected, Deschamps has rearranged his forward options from the Ecuador game.
Mathieu Valbuena takes the place Moussa Sissoko, while France have selected two front-line strikers, with Olivier Giroud preferred to Antoine Griezmann to partner Benzema.
Nigeria, meanwhile, are able to welcome Victor Moses back into the fold, who comes in for the injured Michel Babatunde. Other than that, it is the same team that came so very close to getting a result from Argentina.
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