France vs. Nigeria: Form Guide, Live Stream and Prediction for 2014 World Cup

Gianni Verschueren@ReverschPassFeatured ColumnistJune 29, 2014

French players celebrate after France's Karim Benzema, left,  scored his side's fourth goal during the group E World Cup soccer match between Switzerland and France at the Arena Fonte Nova in Salvador, Brazil, Friday, June 20, 2014.    (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)
Christophe Ena/Associated Press

Monday's 2014 World Cup action will be all about Europe v Africa, with France and Nigeria kicking things off before Germany and Algeria go head-to-head later in the day.

Les Bleus have looked phenomenal so far, cruising through the group stages and scoring a remarkable eight goals in the process. Nigeria struggled during their first two matches, but they rallied and put together an excellent showing in their narrow loss to Argentina.

Both teams have quality rosters and plenty of attacking firepower, and the mental aspect of the game will most likely decide the outcome of this match.

Date: Monday, June 30

Time: 5 p.m. BST/12 p.m. ET

Venue: Estadio Nacional, Brasilia

TV info and live stream: The match will be broadcast on ESPN (for US viewers) and BBC1 (for UK viewers), with mobile coverage available via WatchESPN and the BBC iPlayer.

Form Guide

Michael Sohn/Associated Press

France were red-hot coming into the tournament, and they've hardly slowed down since. Easy wins over Honduras and Switzerland gave them the inside track to the top spot in Group E, and Didier Deschamps decided to field some of his squad players in the final match against Ecuador, which ended in a draw.

Via the Yorkshire Evening Post, striker Karim Benzema told reporters Ecuador tested the French squad, and that he was expecting much of the same from Nigeria:

It was a tough, tough match, and although we had a lot of success in front of goal in our previous games this time we came across a team who caused up problems on a physical level.

We had some good chances to score, we had opportunities but we came across a keeper who played out of his skin.

Now we have to rest, recover and get 100 per cent ready for the knock-out match against Nigeria, who are a good, strong team, but we must do everything to win.

Nigeria had some struggles during their preparations for the World Cup, and their first match against Iran was anything but a success. Bosnia and Herzegovina looked the better team in their second match and had a legitimate goal flagged down for offside, but once the Super Eagles took the lead, they seemed to restore the balance.

The 3-2 loss against Argentina was the best match Nigeria have played so far. For the first time in this tournament, the full-backs provided support with overlapping roles, and the wingers took advantage of the space that was given to them.

Perhaps most importantly, Emmanuel Emenike finally played up to his potential. Wasteful in his previous two appearances, the striker did an excellent job of holding up the ball and providing outlets for teammates against the Argentine team.


David Vincent/Associated Press

Per Goal's Robin Bairner, France's Mamadou Sakho is the team's biggest question mark heading into the tie:

Arsenal's Laurent Koscielny would be the logical replacement for the Liverpool centre-back, and while he played an excellent season in 2013-14, he could struggle with Emenike's blend of raw power and pace.

France have been able to dominate the centre of the pitch in each of their matches thanks to the great work from Yohan Cabaye and Paul Pogba, and it has given the team space to unleash Mathieu Valbuena out on the wing.

John Obi Mikel has been one of Nigeria's most disappointing players so far, and he needs to turn things around in a hurry. If Pogba and Cabaye have free range to dominate possession and set up Valbuena and Antoine Griezmann, the French will have all day to get the ball to Benzema, who has been lethal in front of goal.

Fernando Llano/Associated Press

Joseph Yobo was remarkably excellent against Lionel Messi and Argentina, but Benzema is an entirely different striker. The Real Madrid star will weigh on the defence and open up acres of space for others, and the Super Eagles simply can't afford Les Bleus to collapse on the back four.

The key will be Mikel and Victor Moses, whose speed out wide will keep France's full-backs from advancing too far up the pitch. If these two can be at their best, Nigeria can make sure France have to play on their heels, limiting the effectiveness of the wide players.

One big factor will be set pieces, which has often been an Achilles' heel for African teams and once again hurt Nigeria in their tie against Argentina.


Prediction: France 2-1 Nigeria


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