France have been one of the most impressive teams of the 2014 World Cup so far, and they'll face a Nigeria squad rounding into form at just the right time in the round of 16 on Monday.
The Super Eagles looked lethargic during their opening draw against Iran and hardly any better in the close win over Bosnia-Herzegovina, but their performance against Argentina in the final match promised better things could be on the horizon.
Les Bleus ran all over Honduras and Switzerland during the group stages and decided to rest a number of key contributors in their final match against Ecuador, so they'll be rested and very confident heading into this tie.
Date: Monday, June 30
Time: 5 p.m. BST/12 p.m. ET
Venue: Estadio Nacional, Brasilia
French football was in utter disarray four years ago, but under the guidance of Didier Deschamps, Les Bleus have found a way to turn things around in a hurry. Several young stars, such as Paul Pogba and Antoine Griezmann, have stepped up, and the team has been playing excellent football in the last few months.
France have the look of potential world champions, but they're trying their best not to get ahead of themselves.
Midfielder Yohan Cabaye told FourFourTwo that every match needs to be played and that he and his teammates have tremendous respect for the Super Eagles:
One false step and you're home, so you already have that pressure.
I respect this Nigeria team, and we can go through but to say we can win the World Cup... well you have to be careful.
Even with the mentality and determination we have on the pitch there's nothing to say we won't be beaten by a better side.
Going from having ambition to saying we have to win the World Cup is putting yourself under unnecessary pressure.
Nigeria came into the tournament with a number of question marks, but the team seemed to figure things out match by match. Against Argentina, movement in midfield was superb, and the overlapping runs from the full-backs put tremendous pressure on the Albiceleste back line.
Emmanuel Emenike played his best match yet holding on to the ball, and Nigeria will need a similar performance from him to get past France's talented and physical midfield. If Ahmed Musa could repeat his scoring heroics, that wouldn't hurt either.
But the true key will be the form of Vincent Enyeama and Victor Moses. The latter returned to training on Sunday, per ESPN's Colin Udoh:
At his very best, Enyeama can be one of the best stoppers in the world, and as he plays his football for Lille, the French team know his abilities all too well. Meanwhile, Moses adds a lot of width to the Nigerian team, and his movement is vital in creating space in the attacking third.
Karim Benzema's scoring form has been phenomenal during this World Cup, the Real Madrid man finally performing up to standards for his national team. Aided by the marauding runs of Mathieu Valbuena and the excellent work from Blaise Matuidi, Les Bleus have looked like absolute offensive juggernauts at times.
Nigeria will have to be at their very best to get past this French squad, but given the Europeans' relative lack of experience, there's no guarantee Les Bleus will keep playing at the same level they did during the group stages.
The Super Eagles have the individual talent to make the difference in a close match, so fans shouldn't write off the African side just yet.
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