France are facing Nigeria in tonight’s clash to decide who gets to advance to World Cup quarter-finals.
Les Blues have had it easy at the group stage of the World Cup, crushing both Honduras and Switzerland, and giving rest to key players against Ecuador, ending up in a draw. But now it’s time for the knockout stages and there are no mistakes allowed here. While World Cup 2014 group predictions came true when France won theirs, it doesn’t mean that Didier Deschamps’ men will have an easy path to the final.
Road to the knockouts
First up, France are facing Nigeria, who squeezed passed Iran and Bosnia & Herzegovina to make it to the last 16 behind Argentina. Nigeria’s fixture with Bosnia was of a particular importance, when after a goalless draw with Iran the Super Eagles needed a win to have a chance at qualifying. They scored a questionable goal, and then Bosnians were denied a sure goal, but that’s all in the past now.
France is facing Nigeria for a place in the quarter-finals
•Online sportsbooks in France naturally favor Les Blues to win and advance
• Nigeria are through to the knockouts for the first time in history
• The winner of this match will most probably play Germany in the quarters
Nigeria put in a classy performance against Argentina, and although few punters at online sportsbooks in France expected them to win, they could’ve done so easily. France on the other hand, kicked off with a 3-0 win against Honduras, and continued with 5-2 crushing of Switzerland, before playing a 0-0 draw with Ecuador, although truth be told Les Bleus didn’t use most of their star players in that game because they’ve already qualified from top spot at that point.
Should France win tonight, and most punters under French gambling laws are betting on this outcome, they will most probably meet Germany in the quarters. While this clash is certainly a highly-anticipated one, and will perhaps be the most interesting one at the quarter-final stage, Didier Deschamps men can also meet Algeria, which will pose serious threat to the streets of Paris, regardless of the outcome. But of course, Algeria will need to beat Germany in their last 16 match for that to happen.
More trivia about the upcoming game
Being draw into one of the easiest groups at the World Cup certainly helped France to qualify from top spot and become third highest scoring team at the group stage. Karim Benzema was even priced highest to win the Golden Boot at some point, but now he’s fifth in line to win it with 9.00 odds from Bet365.
Didier Deschamps was of course part of the French World Cup winning squad back in 1998, and he is certainly looking to repeat that success as a manger, and those who bet on sports in France are supporting the team to do so at 10.00 odds currently.
As for Nigeria, Stephen Keshi’s squad has made it to the World Cup for the first time since 1998. The Super Eagles will certainly pose a serious threat to the French goalkeeper, having quite good attacking talent on their side: Ahmed Musa, Emmanuel Emenike, and Ogenyi Onazi. It’s the first time ever, Nigeria are in the knockouts, and they are certainly keen on progressing even further.
Quotes from the managers
Didier Deschamps had the following words for the media: “First of all I want to appreciate the fact that we are in the last 16. I’m overjoyed, thrilled and very satisfied. There’s a whole new competition starting now for us. We’re going to savour the moment and then focus on Nigeria.”
He also mentioned that: “Nigeria are a strong, fast team who have great qualities. As a team they are solid at the back and have a very good goalkeeper. It is going to be a really difficult match and we will have to fight.”
Nigerian coach, Stephen Keshi, also commented the upcoming match: “I said before the tournament that our mentality must be strong. Our approach to every match has always been the same: to win. Whether we are playing against Spain at the Fifa Confederations Cup or playing against Liberia in a friendly match, I always tell the boys that victory is non-negotiable.”
He added: “We don’t even want to think of who might be lurking in the quarter finals if we win; we are not bothered. All we know is that we must win on Monday.”
Betting on the game and the teams’ form
France are on excellent form: D W W W D including the last match against Ecuador ending in a tie. Whereas Nigeria’s record is far from perfect: D L D W L where the last fixture against Argentina resulted in a 2-3 loss for the Super Eagles.
There are no injuries and no suspensions for France, but participation of Mamadou Sakho and Laurent Koscielny is in big doubt. The most probable line-up for Les Bleus will include Lloris, Varane, Mangala, Evra, Cabaye, Matuidi, Debuchy, Pogba, Valbuena, Giroud, and Benzema.
Nigeria’s Michael Babatunde is suffering from an arm injury and is ruled out of tonight’s match, but there are no further injuries and suspensions for the Super Eagles. Their line-up will most probably consist of Enyeama, Ambrose, Yobo, Musa, Oshaniwa, Mikel, Onazi, Omeruo, Uchebo, Odemwingie, and Emenike.
Every self-respecting sportsbook is of course favoring the French to triumph tonight, Bet365 for example is giving them 1.45 odds to win, while Nigeria’s chances are valued at 8.50 and the draw after 90 minutes will pay at 4.50. 1-0 and 2-0 for Les Bleus seem like most probable results paying at 6.00 and 6.50 respectively. However, 15.00 odds for Nigeria winning 1-0 is a pretty attractive bet to make.
Benzema and Remy are expected to strike first with 4.00 and 5.50 odds respectively, but Giroud and Griezmann are also up there with 5.50 and 6.50 odds. Valbuena is given 8.00 odds to find the back of the net first. Musa’s chances of putting his name on the scoreboard first are valued at 12.00 odds, while his teammate Emenike is given a line of 13.00.