France vs. Nigeria: Tactical Preview of World Cup Round-of-16 Match

Sam TigheWorld Football Tactics Lead WriterJune 30, 2014

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - JUNE 25:  Karim Benzema of France controls the ball during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Group E match between Ecuador and France at Maracana on June 25, 2014 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.  (Photo by Matthias Hangst/Getty Images)
Matthias Hangst/Getty Images

The FIFA World Cup 2014 knockout stages have arrived, with 16 teams exiting at the group stage and the rest left to fight it out for the ultimate prize.

Here we analyse France vs. Nigeria: a matchup that sees one overwhelming favourite meet one underdog in a contrast of styles, formations and approaches.



France are favourites for this clash, boasting superior form coming into the contest and a far better XI on paper. 


Goalkeeper and captain Hugo Lloris knows as much and has urged his side to finish the job inside 90 minutes and progress to the quarterfinals:

"We will need to be focused and this kind of match will be decided on a detail, so we will need to be vigilant right until the end," the Tottenham Hotspur man told reporters ahead of the game, via the Daily Star. "If we can make a difference in the match before that [penalties], it's better."

Mamadou Sakho is a serious injury doubt, so Laurent Koscielny should come in to replace him.



Nigeria overcame a pretty ropy first encounter with Iran to seal qualification from Group F ahead of Bosnia and Herzegovina.


They were rocked by the loss of key central defender Godfrey Oboabona but recollected, with Kenneth Omeruo, Emmanuel Emenike, Ahmed Musa and Vincent Enyeama excelling in patches.

France represent just the sort of team they excel playing against, although expectations are fairly low given Les Bleus' magnificent form heading into the contest.

A win would see them match Ghana's 2010 feat of reaching the quarter-finals—only the third time an African nation managed to do so.


2 Tactical Clashes

1. Reactive Play

Nigeria looked hopeless when asked to break down Iran, with manager Stephen Keshi reverting too quickly to Shola Ameobi and long crosses from Efe Ambrose.

But here they'll be able to sit deeper and react to play, not force it, meaning their lack of creative talent in central positions is no longer an issue and they can switch the balls quickly to the wings.

Karim Benzema, Mathieu Valbuena and Co. will have to work hard to engineer space in and around the Super Eagles' penalty area. Can they escape the clutches of Omeruo and work a yard to shoot?


2. Musa Behind Debuchy

Musa played off the left flank for Nigeria against Argentina, filling the space behind Pablo Zabaleta and countering at pace.

He was used on that flank specifically for his pace and ability to cut inside, as the Super Eagles don't usually move him from the right side and instead play Victor Moses off the left.

The space behind Mathieu Debuchy will encourage runners, and Keshi may well play Musa on that flank once again to take advantage of his regular forays forward.


Bleacher Report will do a tactical preview and review of every single 2014 FIFA World Cup game. Stay tuned to this link and check it every day for more.