The Super Eagles threw open the group with a 2-nil win over Iceland meaning the most important match-up in the group was saved for the last.
With Croatia’s coach planning to rest players against Croatia, Nigeria might need to beat Argentina to progress to the next round.
Let’s take a look at the key decisions that’ll give Super Eagles that important win.
1. STICK TO THE 3-5-2 FORMATION
Why this formation is becoming more effective in modern games is because you have wingbacks who have 2 duties from the start (attack and defend)… While some full backs take up these 2 duties regardless of the formation (Alba, Alaba, … to mention a few)… Super Eagles full backs were ineffective going forward against Croatia in contrast to the way they dominated the wings against Iceland.
Employing this formation would greatly improve the team’s attacking threat.
2. DON’T EVER BENCH OMERUO AGAIN
Maybe we doubted him in the past but he proved against Iceland why he is needed in that backline.
I was worried about Super Eagles defenders losing key battles due to the Icelandic team being openly physical in their gameplay, kudos to the Oyinbo wall for their solidity beside him but he was a total menace, didn’t give the opponents breathing space and was also involved in the 2 goals… giving an assist for the second.
3. MOSES IS A WINGBACK NOW AND WE LOVE HIM THAT WAY
Moses was found wanting against Croatia… Running into cul-de-sacs as he tried relentlessly to make an impact.
Some days later… Deployed in a position he has grown accustomed to… Playing two seasons under Conte with Chelsea… He looked more comfortable and had more influence on the game.
Also of note is that Leon Balogun was a good cover for him on the right… But Moses tracked back a lot and his work-rate was impressive throughout.
4. ALWAYS START WITH PACEY ATTACKERS
Yes… Read every tabloid prior to the World Cup and Nigeria was feared because of our pace and strength; so… Color me surprised when Ighalo and Mikel were supposed to be the focal point of attack against Croatia.
Except you can be sure of keeping your opponents on the back foot for the whole 90+ minutes… You need pacey attackers to threaten the opposition on a COUNTER… the combination of Musa and Iheanacho was to a devastating effect and we were able to take advantage of breakaways.
Considering there’s no team in this competition henceforth that’ll play defensive against Nigeria… This guarantees there’ll always be space to run into.
In other words… Always play MUSA, he’s the fastest we got.
5. MIKEL IS A HOLDING MIDFIELDER NOW
Yes… Thank God Bros Mikel was able to redeem himself. He was out of his depth against Croatia… Maybe he could play there against lower teams but against better opposition… That slowness will cost us dearly.
He was neat and tidy in possession… We all know bros rarely gives the ball away and he showed his prowess against the Vikings
6. FIND A WAY TO STOP MESSI
Messi had 2 bad games… Firing 10 shots in the first with none going in including a penalty, couldn’t get involved in the second.
All these mean nothing to those who know what the little genius can do.
While Iceland threw their body behind every shot with the whole team defending against Argentina; Croatia just ensured they starved the man of service… Ensuring Argentina couldn’t involve their star man in the game.
Rohr, either you copy one of these methods or invent a new one… Please do not ignore Messi.