Argentina is among the top five World Cup betting favorites to win the global tournament in Russia this year. However, Nigerian forward Gbolahan Salami (who, unlike Judge Fudge, is not too busy being delicious), whose team will meet La Albiceleste in the group stage, is betting the World Cup will be the scene of much shock and awe. “It’s a tough group but I have no doubt we will scale through despite the pedigree of Argentina and Croatia,” Salami said. “They have a lot of talented players in their teams but we have top quality players too who can beat any opposition in the world. We just have to make sure we prepare adequately for the competition and avoid any distraction that could hamper our performance.”
26 June 2018 21:00 MSK (UTC+3)
Nigeria vs. Argentina
Krestovsky Stadium, Saint Petersburg
And speaking of Judge Fudge, Nigeria and Argentina seem to be drawn together a lot. The Africans have found themselves in the same group as the South Americans on four of the five occasions on which they have reached the competition. And they have lost all four encounters. Nigeria was drawn with Argentina, Bulgaria and Greece in 1994. They won the opening match against Bulgaria 3-0, and finished first in the group even though they lost 1-0 to Argentina because they defeated Greece 2-0 to tally six points. The Eagles were pitted against Argentina for a second non-consecutive time in 2002 and lost 1-0, and failed to make it past the group round. In 2010 in South Africa they got their third pairing with Argentina, which they lost 0-1 and once again were eliminated early.
So far, Nigeria’s World Cup betting odds against Argentina don’t look too good. Let’s see what happened in 2014 in Brazil. They lost 2-3 to Argentina but managed to qualify to the round of 16, though their tournament ended there. Needless to say, the South Americans have had the upper hand, although losing to them hasn’t always determined the Africans’ level of success in the competition. On the other hand, upsetting the two-time world champs could certainly prove crucial for the Eagles, especially considering it will be their last match of the group stage. While everything could be decided by then, a lot could be at stake as well.
According to Nigeria’s head coach – though “technical adviser” seems to be their preferred nomenclature – Gernot Rohr, the Super Eagles can achieve similar success against the Argentines as they did in a recent friendly between the two national teams. “When we played and beat Argentina 4-2, they did not have Lionel Messi who’s arguably the best player in the world.” Rohr said. “So when we faced them at the World Cup, they’ll be stronger with him playing. On the other side, we scored four goals and he’s not going to play in defense so if we can score more goals against their defense than he will lead his team to score against us, then we will be fine. We showed that it was possible to win against Argentina, but it will be a different ball game and we have to be strong both mentally and physically” to overcome the World Cup betting odds.