2014 WORLD CUP SOCCER
Kickoff: Wednesday, 12:00 p.m. EDT
Estadio Beira-Rio – Porto Alegre, Brazil
Argentina -196, Nigeria +625, Tie +275
Over/Under: 2.5 Goals (Over -114, Under -114)
Group F play of the World Cup wraps up on Wednesday when the top two teams in the group, Argentina and Nigeria both look to claim the top spot.
Nigeria has yet to allow a goal in the World Cup, drawing 0-0 with Iran before prevailing 1-0 over Bosnia-Herzegovina. If the heavy underdog can defeat Argentina in this matchup, it will win the group, but if Iran beats Bosnia-Herzegovina and surpasses a losing Nigeria team in goal differential, Nigeria will be eliminated. If both Iran and Nigeria finish tied in points, goal differential and total goals, the second-place team would be determined by drawing lots, something this tournament has never had to resort to. Argentina already knows they are moving on, taking out Bosnia-Herzegovina 2-1 before a narrow 1-0 victory over Iran. Argentina needs only a draw to win the group, and will finish second with a loss to Nigeria.
The Super Eagles played a very even game with Bosnia-Herzegovina, holding the advantage in shots by a 20-18 margin, including 13-10 in shots on goal. Nigeria held the ball for 46% of the time, while corner kicks were even at 4-4. Goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama recorded seven saves in the shutout victory, after needing to save only three shots in the scoreless draw with Iran. Nigeria also trimmed its fouls from 16 versus Iran to nine against Bosnia-Herzegovina, with John Obi Mikel becoming the club's lone player with a yellow card at the 81st minute. Striker Peter Odemwingie was the team's lone goal-scorer 29 minutes in, but the Super Eagles know that star forward Emmanuel Emenike, who netted 15 goals in 32 games at the club level this season, will have to be heard from to earn a point in this match.
Argentina will be playing a virtual home match, as this venue is close to their country's border and it will be packed with Maracana faithful. Lionel Messi has carried his club this tournament with two goals, while the team's other tally came on a fortunate own goal by Bosnia-Herzegovina. Messi has already surpassed his total of one goal in his first two World Cup tournament appearances. Although Argentina has not dominated as expected, they did possess the ball for 55% against Bosnia-Herzegovina and a whopping 70% versus Iran. The Maracana fired 19 shots against Iran, but only nine were on net. However, this was a huge improvement from its 11 shots (5 on goal) in their tournament opener. Argentina also produced 10 corner-kick chances versus Iran, compared to only two against Bosnia-Herzegovina. The Maracana have played a very clean tournament as well, with zero offsides calls and only 18 total fouls. Their lone yellow card was issued to defender Marcos Rojo in the opening match, so they will want to make sure nobody picks up a card in this match for a team that has legitimate aspirations of winning this entire tournament.