Nigeria vs Iceland – Friday, June 22, 16:00BST/17:00CEST/18:00 MSK – Volgograd-Arena, Volgograd, Russia
Nigeria were perhaps one of the biggest disappointments at the start of the tournament. The West African nation faced Croatia on matchday 1 and offered little resistance against the Balkan nation.
As a result, Croatia walked away with an easy 2-0 victory that in turn said very little about the strength of the Vatreni. Nigeria, in turn, have their work cut out if they want to survive in this Group D. The Super Eagles coached by the German Gernot Rohr were lacking in every area on the field.
Poorly organised in the back with no cohesive plan when moving forward Nigeria seemed like a squad of individual units rather than a collective. There is no doubt that the Super Eagles have talented players and there was a certain expectation that Nigeria could perhaps surprise in Group D.
That surprise, however, now seem unlikely as they face Iceland on matchday 2 – Iceland were able to surprise on matchday 1 holding Argentina to a draw at the Spartak Stadium in Moscow.
Coached by Heimir Hallgrimson the Strákarnir okkar held Argentina to a 1-1 draw. Well organised at the back and dangerous when going forward Iceland managed to win the point despite having only 23% ball-possession throughout the match.
Going by what we saw on matchday 1 anything but a decisive victory would be a significant surprise. The Strákarnir okkar have both the discipline and the patience to break down a Nigeria team that seems to lack tactical order and should, therefore, win this match.
Nigeria vs Iceland – Players to look out for:
Wilfred Ndidi #4 – Nigeria (Leicester)
Wilfred Ndidi will be Nigeria’s key player in midfield. The Leicester City holding midfielder will attempt to get some much-needed structure inserted into the Super Eagles’ play. The 21-year-old is one of the most talented defensive midfielders going into the tournament. Signed from Genk in January 2017 Ndidi has quickly established himself at Leicester and was one of the emerging players in the English Premier League.
Gylfi Sigurdsson #10 – Iceland (Everton)
Gylfi Sigurdsson is the star in a team without stars. Iceland very much defines itself through teamwork and as being a closed knit group. But Sigurdsson’s talent and his excellent shooting technique make him the one player that stands out a bit of the group.
Nigeria vs Iceland – Match Stats
- Nigeria and Iceland have faced each other only once with Iceland beating Nigeria 3-0 in August 1981.
- Nigeria’s five wins at the World Cup all came against European teams.
- Nigeria have lost their last three World Cup matches – their longest run of defeats since losing four matches from 1998 to 2002.
Futbolgrad Network Prediction: Nigeria vs Iceland – 0-2
Nigeria vs Iceland – Lineups
Uzoho – Bryan Idowu, Balogun, Troost-Ekong, Shehu – Ndidi, Etebo – Iwobi, Obi, Moses – Ighalo
Head Coach: Gernot Rohr
Halldorsson – Skulason, Ragnar Sigurdsson, Arnason, Eyolfsson – Gylfi Sigurdsson, Hallfredsson – Bjarnason, Gudmundsson – Sigurdason, Finnbogason
Head Coach: Heimir Hallgrimsson
Manuel Veth is the owner and Editor in Chief of the Futbolgrad Network. He also works as a freelance journalist and among others works for the Bundesliga and Pro Soccer USA. He holds a Doctorate of Philosophy in History from King’s College London, and his thesis is titled: “Selling the People’s Game: Football’s transition from Communism to Capitalism in the Soviet Union and its Successor States,” which is available HERE. Originally from Munich, Manuel has lived in Amsterdam, Kyiv, Moscow, Tbilisi, London, and currently is located in Victoria BC, Canada. Follow Manuel on Twitter @ManuelVeth.