2014 WORLD CUP SOCCER
Kickoff: Saturday, 6:00 p.m. EDT
Arena Pantanal – Cuiaba, Brazil
Bosnia-Herzegovina -135, Nigeria +375, Tie +275
Over/Under: 2.5 Goals (Over -109, Under -120)
Group F play of the World Cup continues on Saturday night when Bosnia-Herzegovina seeks a crucial win over sizable underdog Nigeria.
Bosnia-Herzegovina is desperate for a victory after losing its opening match 2-1 to powerhouse Argentina, while Nigeria looks to build on its 0-0 draw with Iran to open their 2014 World Cup journey.
Both teams know that a loss will most likely keep them out of the Round of 16, so both clubs should be attacking rather than settling for a tie. This will be the first time these countries have ever met, with Bosnia-Herzegovina seeking its first World Cup win, while Nigeria looks to end a 16-year win drought at this tournament, having gone nine straight World Cup matches without a victory. Both teams could be missing key players, as Nigeria defender Godfrey Oboabona is out with an ankle injury suffered in the Iran contest, while Bosnia-Herzegovina captain Emir Spahic (knee) and Sejad Salihovic (long-term injury) are both questionable for Saturday's match.
The Super Eagles were significant favorites over Iran, and were certainly the better team in that 0-0 draw. Not only did they hold possession for 63% of the match, but they outshot Iran 10-7, including 6-3 in shots on goal. Nigeria also produced seven corner kicks, compared to only two for their opponent, and did not get whistled for a single offsides or yellow card. Fouls were pretty even with Iran committing 18 fouls and the Super Eagles called for 16 fouls. One player that Nigeria needs to step up is Emmanuel Emenike, who failed to get either of his two shots on goal versus Iran. Emenike netted 15 goals in 32 club-level matches this season, and must make things happen for his team to finally earn a World Cup victory for the first time since 1998.
Bosnia-Herzegovina played very well in its first-ever World Cup match, putting a real scare in their opponent with 16 total shots, including 11 on goal, while Argentina managed just 11 shots and five on goal. The club also generated a 6-2 advantage in corner kicks against the heavy favorites, who got a lucky own goal at the three-minute mark of that match. Bosnia-Herzegovina trailed 2-0 after Lionel Messi scored 65 minutes into the contest, but kept attacking and finally scored on a Vedad Ibisevic tally at the 85-minute mark. This late goal should give them plenty of momentum and confidence to overcome an underdog Nigeria club. Miralem Pjanic played an outstanding match against Argentina, with very crisp passing to set up his teammates, while also playing nearly flawless defense. The first goal of this match will be vital for both of these clubs.