Nigeria vs. Spain: Complete Confederations Cup Preview, Projected Lineups

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Nigeria vs. Spain: Complete Confederations Cup Preview, Projected Lineups
Alexandre Loureiro/Getty Images

Nigeria meet Spain in the final Confederations Cup group game on Sunday at the Estadio Castelao in Fortaleza.

In theory there is still everything to play for; both sides could still qualify for the semifinals and both sides could still make an early exit.

In reality though, it's going to take an unimaginable chain of events for the Africans to qualify—despite currently occupying second spot.

La Roja merely need a point, while Nigeria need to win and hope that Uruguay don't beat Tahiti by a significant amount.

 

Team News 

Neither side look set to go into the match nursing any injuries, while no players on either side have picked up the two yellow cards necessary to lead to a booking.

Nigeria made two changes for their 2-1 defeat to Uruguay on Thursday night, and manager Stephen Keshi may choose to stick with the same team.

David Ramos/Getty Images

Vicente del Bosque opted for 10 changes as Spain beat Tahiti 10-0 with goals from Fernando Torres (4), David Villa (3), David Silva (2) and Juan Mata.

How many changes he will make for Sunday's match is difficult to tell, but with qualification still technically on the line, he may opt for the same side who dominated Uruguay.

 

Form

The Super Eagles' loss to Uruguay was their first defeat in over a year, dating back to May 2012 when they lost to Peru in a friendly.

Prior to playing la Celeste they had remained unbeaten in 13 games in 2013, including draws with Mexico and Catalunya.

Since losing to England in November 2011, Spain have gone on a 24-match run without defeat.

Meanwhile, their last competitive loss was against Switzerland in their opening match at the 2010 World Cup.

 

Last Meeting

The last time the two sides met competitively it was the Super Eagles who emerged victorious.

At the World Cup in France in 1998, Fernando Hierro and Raul had twice given Spain the lead, but goals from Mutiu Adepoju, Garba Lawal and Sunday Oliseh helped Nigeria to a 3-2 win.

 

Key Men

John Obi Mikel

Anyone who watched the 2012 Champions League final will know what Mikel offers as a defensive midfielder.

Against Uruguay he chipped in with a goal too—he's only ever scored twice for Chelsea—but it will be his defensive attributes that need to shine if Nigeria are to triumph over Spain.

 

Andres Iniesta

Man of the match in Spain's opening group match, Iniesta's fancy footwork and speed of mind are a constant joy to watch.

Del Bosque is expected to restore him to the lineup against Nigeria, having only used him from the bench against Tahiti, and the midfielder is the most likely to do the damage.

 

Projected Teams

Nigeria: Vincent Enyeama; Efe Ambrose, Godfrey Oboabona, Kenneth Omeruo, Elderson; John Ogu, John Obi Mikel, Fegor Ogude; Nnamdi Oduamadi, Ideye Brown, Ahmed Musa

Spain: Victor Valdes: Alvaro Arbeloa, Sergio Ramos, Gerard Pique, Jordi Alba; Sergio Busquets, Xavi Hernandez, Andres Iniesta; Cesc Fabregas, Pedro Rodriguez, Roberto Soldado

 

Prediction

Nigeria 1-3 Spain (Ideye - Fabregas, Pedro, Soldado) 

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