Nigeria came into this World Cup tournament as a rather unknown quantity in terms of their consistency. They are certainly a side with the talent to make waves in the competition, but their recent results have ranged from disastrous to excellent.
On the more positive side of the spectrum is their shock 4-2 win over Argentina last November, but in February they were hammered 4-0 by Morocco and they put in a similarly dismal performance in their World Cup opener.
They faced off with Croatia in a game that most expected them to lose, but they were almost completely ineffectual against the Luka Modric led team. An own goal in the first half put them deservedly behind, and they never really looked like getting back into the game after that. It eventually ended 2-0 after a Modric penalty put the game out of Nigeria’s reach, and they will be hoping for a vastly improved showing against Iceland.
Iceland are no pushovers though, a fact that is becoming known worldwide now. They made the headlines two years ago when they shockingly qualified from the groups of their first ever international tournament before beating England. They ensured it wasn’t just a fluke by topping their World Cup qualifying group, and on Saturday they became the talk of the tournament once more.
They faced off with the South American giants and group favourites Argentina in a David vs Goliath clash. Iceland has just a quarter of the population of Buenos Aires, but they didn’t let that phase them as they crowded Argentina out of the game. They went a goal behind but hit back instantly and ended up taking an unexpected point from the game.
This will obviously be a huge confidence boost for them, and it’s worth noting that in their six major tournament matches they have lost just once. In fact, in their last 26 competitive games they have lost just five times, winning 14 of them. Meanwhile, Nigeria have lost four of their last five outings.
We fancy Iceland to take all three points here after their confidence boosting result against Argentina, and an Iceland Draw No Bet looks a great choice here. Five of Iceland’s last six competitive games have seen fewer than three goals as well, so we’re also opting for an Iceland Win and Under 2.5 Goals along with a 1-0 correct score predictions.
Gylfi Sigurdsson is Iceland’s talisman in the centre of midfield, and with 19 goals in 58 caps he’s their top scorer too. His free kicks are a major part of his game too, and with Nigeria conceding 16 fouls against Croatia we think he looks a top choice for our anytime goalscorer predictions.
Nigeria Predicted Lineup: Uzoho, Shehu, Troost-Ekong, Balogun, Idowu, Ndidi, Etebo, Iwobi, Mikel, Moses, Ighalo
Iceland Predicted Lineup: Halldorsson, Saevarsson, Arnason, Sigurdsson, Magnusson, Gudmundsson, Gunnarsson, Hallfredsson, Bjarnason, Sigurdsson, Finnbogason
There has only been one meeting between Nigeria and Iceland, with Iceland winning 3-0 in a 1981 friendly.
Nigeria manager Gernot Rohr is expected to name the same starting eleven that lost to Nigeria, with Leon Balogun retaining his place in the centre of defence.
Iceland have no injury concerns to deal with and are unlikely to alter the squad after their impressive draw against Argentina.