The Super Eagles defeated Iceland 2-0 on Friday to enhance their chances of qualifying to the Round of 16 stages of the World Cup.
The positive outcome makes it imperative to then consider how to navigate the crucial last Group D match against Argentina.
Newslegend.com.ng’s IZUCHUKWU OKOSI highlights the takeaways from the Argentina versus Croatia match and how the Eagles can exploit the Argies’ weak areas.
1. The Short Passes; Fast Breaks
The Albecelestie got out of jail a few times with Nicolas Otamendi and Nicolas Tagliafiko guilty of short passes that let to the Croats’ pressures.
The errors culminated in Croatia’s goal by Ante Rebic who scored after a Willy Caballero gaffe in the 53rd minute, volleying past the Argentinian keeper who wanted to be too stylish and smart chipping the ball above the winger with right back Gabriel Mercado waiting to receive it.
From the beginning of the Nigeria versus Argentina game, the Eagles must fly out of their traps and put their opponents under tremendous pressure
2. Argies Struggled To String Passes
Argentina’s combination play were nullified most times with Lionel Messi and Kun Sergio Aguero not seeing much of the ball up top.
In the first 21 minutes of the game, both superstars barely touched the ball with Aguero’s only chance of putting the ball away just to tame to go past Danijel Subasic.
This could be put down to the ageing midfield pivot of Javier Mascherano and Enzo Perez.
The South Americans are reputed to be a team that love to dominate possession in midfield and could be run ragged by a younger Nigerian side who must ensure that they do not hold unto the ball for too long but make quick transitions.
3. Eyes on Otamendi
The Manchester City defender is a threat from set pieces, running deep from defence to attack the ball. He possesses good headers, scoring some vital goals at club level from corners
4. The Messi Decoy Strategy
Lionel Messi tend to come deep in midfield to pick up the ball and orchestrate attacks.
The ultimate plan is to release the ball to his teammates who must then find him when he runs into a good position up top.
The Eagles stars must follow Messi everywhere.
The five time Ballon d’ Or winner crafty and there is no guarantee such plans will work like is the case in the La Liga.
But at international football, Messi is not quite the same player and Gernot Rohr has to detail about two players on him when he comes deep to pick the ball and not turn attention to direction of the ball always.
5. Frustrated Argies, Eagles Expect ‘Rough’ Treatment
The only way Argentina can advance to the round of 16 stage is a win over Nigeria.
The defeat to Croatia has seriously wounded the pride of this team whose last heavy defeat was a 6-1 hiding to Czechoslovakia in the 1958 World Cup.
Consequently there could be potential flashpoints and fouls from a desperate Argentina side whose reputation is at stake.
The Eagles must not be bullied the way Croatia started against them in their first Group game.