Heading into the 2014 World Cup, both Mexico and Nigeria are interesting teams to keep an eye on. There's no question each side has a ton of talent but does either team have enough to make any noise in Brazil?
We may have to wait a few months yet to answer that question, but we'll at least get to see how the teams stack up against one another when they meet in a friendly on Wednesday in Atlanta. Let's preview this showdown between World Cup contestants.
When: Wednesday at 8:30 p.m. ET
Thursday at 1:30 a.m. GMT
Where: Georgia Dome, Atlanta, Georgia
Watch: ESPNNews; WatchESPN
Mexico against Nigeria may not be an international showcase comparable to the likes of, say, Spain facing Brazil, but it has certainly proven to be a big deal in Atlanta.
History will be made on Wednesday when Mexico takes on Nigeria at the Georgia Dome.
Ticket sales for the game surpassed 54,000 Friday morning, guaranteeing the match will set a record for the largest soccer crowd in the history of Atlanta. The previous record of 54,229 tickets sold was set during last year’s Gold Cup, which also featured Mexico at the Dome.
“We’re urging people to come out and be a part of Atlanta soccer history,” said Gabriel Gabor, with Soccer United Marketing, which is organizing the game. “Everyone that comes to this game will be part of Atlanta soccer history.”
Mexico will be without one of their key players in this game, as Giovani dos Santos is out with a calf injury, via ESPN. Raul Jimenez will take his place. Mexico will also have star players like Javier Hernandez and Andres Guardado in action, among others.
John Mikel Obi, Joseph Yobo, Victor Moses and Emmanuel Emenike will lead the Super Eagles. Remember, this is the team that won the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations, so even away from home in a venue where Mexico will have some semblance of a home-field advantage, Nigeria is not to be taken lightly.
Every chance to improve heading into the World Cup is vital for both of these teams. Mexico barely squeaked into the World Cup at all and has really struggled in the past two years, while Nigeria has a lot of talent that flashes at times, but they can also be plagued by inconsistency.
Neither side will have an easy road to traverse in Brazil. Mexico was drawn into a group that includes Brazil, Croatia and Cameroon, while Nigeria will face Argentina, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Iran.
While both teams have plenty of ability to advance out of those groups, any hiccups will see them heading home early. Thus, friendlies like the one on Wednesday are of the utmost importance as both sides look to iron out any kinks and identify an ideal starting 11.
This game should be a fun one. Nigeria has a lot of firepower, so you'd guess they wouldn't sit back and allow Mexico to control the tempo. Meanwhile, the Mexicans of late have been missing the type of intensity and defensive aggressiveness you'd expect from El Tri.
Which team wins?
If Mexico doesn't bring their A-game in the back, Nigeria will make them pay. But the Mexicans will also be traveling a much-shorter distance and are talented enough to hold off the Super Eagles.
El Tri win, 2-1.