Argentina progressed to the Round of 16 in the FIFA World Cup as goals from Lionel Messi and Marcos Rojo ensured that they qualified, despite a penalty from Victor Moses early in the second half. It was anything but straightforward for the South American nation as they had it tough against the Nigerians, who were more than a match for them.
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Nigeria (3-5-2) Manager: Gernot Rohr
Uzoho; Balogun,Troost-Ekong, Omeruo; Moses, Etobo, Mikel, Ndidi, Idowu; Ihencaho, Musa
Argentina (4-4-2) Manager: Jorge Sampaoli
Armani; Mercado, Otamendi, Rojo, Tagliafico; Perez, Mascherano, Banega, Di Maria; Messi, Higuain
- Argentina were much better today in possession with a bright start to the game. Nicolas Tagliafico made some very clever runs in the left halfspace, which was as a result of some good off the ball movement by the Argentinian wide men and Higuain.
- Ever Banega was fantastic on the night, providing the quality that Argentina so sorely missed in their previous games- advancing the ball into the final third from midfield.He positioned himself cleverly in between the lines, prompting passes to him and progressing it further.
- Lionel Messi opened the scoring for ARG, with a brilliant pass from Banega to put him through on goal. The movement from Messi there, prior to the goal, and Higuain’s presence,coupled with the non existent pressing from Nigeria’s midfield culminated in a well taken goal
It was a hard fought victory for Sampaoli’s men as they had to leave it late to a Marcos Rojo winner to see them through to the next round. A clash against France awaits them in the next round as a potential quarterfinal clash against Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal also awaits them. Ever Banega was the star of the day, as he provided the very qualities that Argentina so desperately missed in the previous rounds. It remains to be seen if Sampaoli makes any more changes to the lineup going into the next round after the performances from today.