Nigeria will etch their name in history as the African side feature in their first World Cup knockout match since 1998 when they face France in Monday’s knockout clash in Brasilia. The build up to the last sixteen clash has been marred with controversies over unpaid bonuses which has threatened to derail the African champions’ campaign in Sambaland.
Will the Les Blues qualify for the last eight or will the Super Eagles have a sting in their tail. We here at Soccerouls provide our readers with France’s strongest possible lineup against Nigeria.
Nigeria’s attacking prowess was full on display against Argentina as the African side gave their all in what was a thriller. With the likes of Emanuel Emenike and Peter Odemwinge up front, Hugo Lloris has to be on his toes right from the first whistle. The Tottenham goalkeeper has so far hardly been tested in the group stages, but the Super Eagles have the verve and attacking intent to cause a major shock in Brasilia.
PSG’s Lucas Digne replaced veteran left back Patrice Evra when France played their final group game against Ecuador which ended as a stalemate. However, this time around expect Deschamps to start the Untied man ahead of the youngster. Meanwhile Mathieu Decuchy should man the right back role for his national side.
While Nigeria have lost Micheal Babatunde thanks to a nasty hand injury, the African outfit will look to draw the fullbacks out of position with their wing play to provide layoff to the strikers up front. Both the full backs need to make sure they don’t offer an inch of space to the Nigerian wingers who, like the game against Argentina showed can be devastating. However the central defensive partnership of Liverpool’s Mamadou Sakho and Real Madrid’s Rapahel Varane will bring assurance to Deschamps who has shut the critics till this point of time.
Paul Pogba has dazzled for Juventus right throughout the season and it’s heartwarming to see how the youngster has carried the midfield responsibility for the national side. With Blaise Matuidi alongside him, who acts as more of a destroyer rather than an attacking midfielder, it allows Pogba to join attacks without being held back to helpout his defense. Morgan Schneiderlin was exquisite against Ecuador which ended in a dull and goalless draw and the Southampton man will have a shout for a place in the starting eleven. Mathieu Valbuena however, should start on the right as expected looking to stay narrow providing fullbacks to overlap as much as possible.
It would be interesting to see how Deschamps lines up his attacking options up front. The French coach will be tempted to put Stephen Keshi’s defense under tremendous pressure right from the start and might have Arsenal’s Olivier Giroud working just off Benzema in the final third. However, this would mean that the Les Blues would abandon their 4-3-3 philosophy which has worked wonders in the group stages. Should Antoine Griezmann start expect Deschamps revert to his preferred 4-3-3 setup.