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Argentina will hope Lionel Messi can inspire their team to victory against Nigeria on Thursday as La Albiceleste aim to keep their 2018 FIFA World Cup dreams alive.
Both teams can still qualify from Group D but will also be aware that Iceland can also make it through as they play Croatia in the group’s other game.
Here’s a look at how you can watch the match, followed by team news and a match preview.
Date: Tuesday, June 26
Time: 9 p.m. local time, 7 p.m. BST, 10 a.m. ET
TV Info: Live on BBC One (UK), Fox (U.S.)
Live Stream: BBC Sport Live (UK), Fox Sports Go (U.S.)
Argentina coach Jorge Sampaoli is expected to make changes to his team after their 3-0 defeat to Croatia. Goalkeeper Willy Caballero could be dropped after his mistake allowed Ante Rebic to score. River Plate stopper Franco Armani could come into the team in his place.
Argentine football writer Peter Coates offered his view of the lineup:
Peter Coates @golazoargentino
First possible line-up out for Nigeria – Armani in goal & a back 4 we know. Banega coming in and Di María returning possibly. After all the changes, a very familiar XI https://t.co/Ay2qWc48I7
Nigeria’s only injury concern is midfielder John Obi Mikel who has a hand injury. Manager
Gernot Rohr said he could play with a cast, per FIFA’s Annette Braun.
Both teams also have players at risk of suspension if they were to pick up a booking in the match. Nigeria’s Brian Idowu and William Troost-Ekong and Argentina’s Marcos Acuna, Nicolas Otamendi and Gabriel Mercado will miss any subsequent match if they are booked again.
Argentina Need Dramatic Improvement
Argentina’s World Cup campaign so far has been shambolic and star man Messi has come under scrutiny for failing to shine. The Barcelona star missed a penalty in the draw against Iceland and was anonymous in the 3-0 defeat to Croatia.
Sampaoli took the blame for the performance against Croatia and said “he didn’t read the match as he should,” per ESPN.
Goal’s Ben Hayward summed up Argentina’s problems:
Ben Hayward @bghayward
Preparations were chaotic too, with problems at AFA and three different coaches in qualifying. Sampaoli needed more time, but never seemed convinced by the options he had. And that’s the reality – this is an ordinary team plus Messi. As we saw against Spain.
Nigeria’s win over Iceland means Argentina can still qualify despite only picking up one point so far. They need to beat Nigeria and hope Iceland do not beat Croatia. If Argentina and Iceland both win then the team with the best goal difference will qualify.
Here’s a look at the standings:
FIFA World Cup 🏆 @FIFAWorldCup
So, Group D…
Final round of fixtures:
#NGA vs #ARG
#ISL vs #CRO
Football writer Roy Nemer is not optimistic about Argentina’s chances even if they do make it through:
Roy Nemer @RoyNemer
The crazy part about it all is Argentina still have a chance to qualify for the next round. Although I fear the humiliation which would await them against France would far surpass this.
Argentina have quality in their squad but Sampaoli has not shown he is able to find a system which works and allows the team to get the best out of Messi.
Musa Can Fire Nigeria Past Argentina
Nigeria’s 2-0 win over Iceland gave their World Cup hopes a boost, and they will also be eyeing a place in the last 16. A win or a draw against Argentina will be enough as long as Iceland fail to beat Croatia.
Ahmed Musa was the match-winner for the Super Eagles against Iceland as he scored both goals. He was in confident mood after the game, per Marca:
MARCA in English @MARCAinENGLISH
“Scoring against Argentina isn’t that difficult for me”
#NGA striker Ahmed Musa scored twice against #ISL.
And he’s confident of doing it again versus #ARG.
🗣 https://t.co/x4chAgZqRQ https://t.co/f0yRja66Jl
The forward has reason for optimism as Argentina’s defence has looked shaky in the tournament so far and is yet to keep a clean sheet.
Football writer Tim Vickery is excited by the prospect:
Argentina have will have to improve at the back if they are to have any chance, but Musa has the pace and skill to send Sampaoli’s men home early.