Argentina vs. Nigeria Ellis Park, Johannesburg, South Africa 10 AM EST Saturday June 12, 2010
By Jason Green, World Cup Soccer Handicapper, Predictem.com
Match Odds: Argentina 1.50 / Nigeria 7.00 / Draw 4.15
Over/Under: 2.5 goals
Moneyline: Argentina -250 / Nigeria +650 / Draw +325
In the second Group B match on Saturday Nigeria faces Argentina in a match that should be an exciting one, as each team has a great offense. Nigeria is the major underdog in this match, but they will have a little home field advantage and they need all the help they can get.
This is a rematch of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Gold Medal Match, which Argentina won.
Argentina is the favorite to win Group B and they have the fourth best odds to win the World Cup after Spain, Brazil, and England. However, even though Argentina is stacked they did not qualify for the World Cup easily and had to play well at the end of the qualifying process to make it to South Africa.
While Nigeria has a few world-class players on their squad they will be without the services of striker John Obi Mikel of Chelsea. That loss may hurt, as he is Nigeria’s most feared striker.
Head coach and legendary player Diego Maradona leads Argentina and he has come under a lot of pressure at home and if he does not guide his team far he will be out of a job. He has used many different lineups in both the World Cup qualification process and in friendlies and since there is so much talent on the squad he has had a tough time finding the right lineup.
Nigeria is a very fast squad that has something in this World Cup that they have not had in quite some time, which is a decent defense. They may need to play great on the defensive side of the pitch will all the offensive firepower that Argentina has.
Argentina Recent Form
5/24/2010 Argentina 5 Canada 0 (Friendly)
5/5/2010 Argentina 4 Haiti 0 (Friendly)
3/3/2010 Germany 1 Argentina 0 (Friendly)
Nigeria Recent Form
6/6/2010 Nigeria 3 North Korea 1 (Friendly)
5/30/2010 Nigeria 1 Columbia 1 (Friendly)
1/30/2010 Nigeria 1 Algeria 0 (African Cup of Nations)
Yakubu of Everton and Obafemi Martins of Wolfsburg both play on big clubs in Europe and are no strangers to huge matches. This striker duo will have to provide some offense for Nigeria and take up the slack since John Obi Mikel is injured.
Argentina has so much talent on the squad that sometimes they tend to just watch the action and not play team soccer. They may get away with that in other matches, but maybe not in this one and definitely when they play elite teams if they make it to the knockout phase.
To say that Diego Maradona has a good list of strikers to choose from is a massive understatement, as they have Carlos Tevez, Sergio Aguero, Gonzolo Higuan, and the best young striker in the world in Lionel Messi. Messi will start and whoever else is in the starting 11 will attack all match.
Messi has won a ton of accolades for his play with Barcelona, but he has yet to do so on an International stage like the World Cup. He wants to change that and will do so a little in this match, as he will score at least one goal.
Argentina has the veterans of Javier Mascherano and Juan Sebastian Veron in the midfield and these guys have to set up all the strikers and also try to control possession of the ball.
Nigeria has a good defense led by goalie Vincent Enyeama and defenders Joeseph Yobo and Obinna Nwaneri. These guys will have to play a great match for Nigeria to pull off the upset or even play to a draw.
Argentina does not have a great defense so they will need to control the ball and their offense will have to take the pressure of them by scoring.
Both teams will attack from the get-go, so each has to be ware of the counter-attack.
Jason’s Pick: Even though they did not play great teams Argentina scored a total of 9 goals in their recent World Cup tune-ups. Nigeria does have a solid squad and the home field advantage, but Argentina simply has too much talent and they will win this match by a score of 3-1 or 4-1.