Argentina kick off their 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa with a tricky Group B matchup with Nigeria.
Argentina Starting XI
Romero, Gutierrez, Demichelis, Samuel, Heinze, Veron, Mascherano, Di Maria, Tevez, Messi, Higuain
Pozo, Rodriguez, Burdisso, Bolatti, Garce, Otamendi, Aguero, Palermo, Milito, Maxi, Pastore, Anduja
Nigeria Starting XI
Enyeama, Odiah, Yobo, Shittu, Taiwo, Kaita, Etuhu, Haruna, Obasi Ogbuke, Yakubu, Obinna
Ejide, Kanu, Afolabi, Utaka, Martins, Ideye, Odemwingie, Uche, Yussuf, Echiejile, Adeleye, Aiyenugbu.
The match will be refereed by Germany’s Wolfgang Stark and will kick off at 16:00pm local time (15:00 BST, 16:00 CET – see our World Cup 2010 Timetable for more match times)
Argentina v Nigeria Match Preview
Apart from the hugely popular opening match featuring South Africa, this match has been eagerly awaited since the draw was announced last year, as we see another African team, the Super Eagles of Nigeria, in action against the strongly fancied Argentina outfit.
Argentina are coached by their prodigious world cup winning attacking midfielder Maradona, whose management style is nothing if not unorthodox. Their side features many household names, including the world’s best player, Lionel Messi, who plays for Barcelona in Spain’s La Liga.
Argentina are favourites, but they are perhaps susceptible to making mistakes at the back as Maradona’s squad selection hints at a gung-ho attitude (the coach favours four centre backs in a most obscure formation to enable playing wing-backs) that may create gaps particularly between defence and midfield.
Nigeria may not be as well equipped to expose any holes as in previous years however, as they have lost Obi Mikel to injury recently and also they have an ageing attacking lineup which, while seasoned, will not be posing too many problems in terms of pace.
Expect Argentina to score more than once, though the question will be whether, and how many times, Nigeria can score. Our prediction is 3-1 Argentina, but this game could turn into an exciting encounter should Nigeria manage to get themselves on the score-sheet early, or more than once, and keep Messi and co quiet at the other end.