A thrilling comeback from the Netherlands gave us our fifth straight victory yesterday, and we’ll look to keep the momentum rolling on Monday as the high-flying French take on Nigeria. Entering this fixture, we know have an overall record of 15-6-1, including bonus selections, good for a profit of 7.0 units. Hopefully another winner awaits in what should be an energetic affair between two offensive sides.
You never know just what to expect from the French at the international level, although thus far in Brazil they’ve been brilliant. Finally they seem to be a united and cohesive squad that can generate offense at will. The play of Karim Benzema and their attack-minded midfielders has been entirely in sync, and should be a handful for any defense that stands in its way. France is a legitimate contender to lift the trophy on July 13th.
On the other end of the pitch are the Nigerians who squeaked through qualification in a relatively weak group. They looked lackluster in a win over Bosnia and a 0-0 draw against Iran, although surprisingly their best outing came against a powerful Argentinian side. Though they lost 3-2, they showed many stretches of playing quality football. It seems this is a squad that can raise their game against some of the world’s best, and whether they can do that against an in-form French squad, will dictate their ability to progress to the quarter-finals.
France vs. Nigeria Betting Odds:
France (-220) / Draw (+350) / Nigeria (+600)
France -1 (-125) / Nigeria +1 (+105)
Over 2.5 (-110) / Under 2.5 (-110)
Betting odds provided by Bovada.lv
France vs. Nigeria Prediction:
The sheer dominance of the French thus far in Brazil has been a tad surprising. Sure everyone knew how talented this squad could be, but France always brings talented groups to these major tournaments. This time around however, they are a team, a united one playing unbeatable football. Karim Benzema looks to be the best striker in the tournament, and his surrounding cast has all the ingredients necessary to ensure France gets by a speedy Nigerian group.
Though the French ended their group stage off on a lacklustre note against Ecuador, don’t put too much stock into that. Manager Didier Deschamps rested many of his banged-up and tired players, and it should be all hands on deck now that the knockout stage is here. Patrice Evra, Yohan Cabaye, Mathieu Valbuena all were rested and are expected to be re-inserted into the starting 11 against Nigeria.
As far as tactics go, both coaches have their squads play extremely attack-minded football. The Super Eagles of Nigeria are a squad built on pace, and look to push forward their midfielders and fullback on pretty much every instance. They’re a wildly aggressive team, and just like you saw them go right at the talented Argentinians, they won’t be intimidated by the talent and skill of Les Bleus. Nigeria will try to beat France at its own game, and it’s up to Didier Deschamps to devise a strategy to counteract that approach.
For France, expect them to be content to sit back in the early stages of the match. When the Nigerians attack, France too has the capabilities to thwart their advances and push forward with numbers. France holds a decisive advantage in the middle of the pitch with their flair and creativity. This will allow the ball to be pushed out to the flanks, and swung back in for Benzema or Olivier Giroud to tap in. France can beat Nigeria in too many ways, and shouldn’t encounter much resistance in doing so. Nigeria’s backline is as questionable as they come and the talent up front for France should be overwhelming.
Expect the Nigerian style to ultimately play right into the hands of the French. France is at their best when they possess the ball and attack in numbers. When Nigeria inevitably commits turnovers and makes mistakes, the talent and skill of the French will be lethal on the break. Look for a convincing French victory on Monday. A 2-0, or 3-1 scoreline seems fitting.
PICK = France -1 (-125)