After yesterday’s loss to Argentina where even a draw would have seen the Eagles qualify to the next round where France will be in the ranks waiting, but Argentina got a much deserved win with a 2 – 1 win with goals from Messi, Moses and Marcus Rojo.
These are the few things we have learnt from the loss.
Five things learnt from Nigeria vs Argentina
(1) Inability to Cover spaces at the back due to lack of experience.
The Eagles were more interested in marking spaces in their defensive third. This meant that Argentina had enough space to pass the ball around and were totally dominant in the midfield.
The pressing from the midfield trio of Mikel Obi, Etebo and Wilfred N’didi was not forceful enough. Messi sneaked in-behind a high defensive line and scored the first goal. Nigeria was always living on the edge and were very fortunate to go into halftime only a goal down, they were forceful and pressed with more energy but after the equalizing goal, Nigeria repeatedly switched between a back 5 and a back 6 and relied on counter attacks. Nigeria will rue their missed opportunities as they had several chances to go 2-1 during counter attacks.
(2) Argentina’s Tactical Changes
Jorge Sampaoli opted for a 4 back. This was in response to their horrid performance against Croatia. It proved effective as Argentina played better and moved the ball faster.
They appeared more comfortable with a 4 back formation and had better off the ball movements. It is of notable mention that both of Argentina’s goals were from intelligent movement to outwit the Nigerian defence.
(3) Too much concentration on Messi
When Nigeria faced Argentina at the last World Cup in Brazil, Messi had phenomena performance and he is one of the best in the land but forgetting to watch out for other stars like Higuain, Ageuro and the likes. Argentina winning goal was scored by a familiar foe, Rojo who also scored in the last world cup against Nigeria.
(4) Mikel Obi is not the answer
The Former Chelsea midfielder had a good game but was obvious he is ageing and needs a replacement so urgently. He has served so hard for his father’s land but it was high time he got a replacement. Mikel played with no pace and no skill. He sometimes exposed his team-mates to counter-attacks with lazy passing and a lack of intensity in his pressing.
(5) Nigeria needs Goal Scorers
Where Mikel Obi and Ighalo coupled with Iheancho were busy losing chances and passing thereby giving the Argentine’s hope of doing something special which they eventually did. In the League at home, there is a popular figure, Junior Lokosa who now has 19 league goals and is also young but was left out of the team because he ply’s his trade in Nigeria.
The Technical team needs to look for young,fast and vibrant players that can hold on to the ball well and confidently score goals with ease and technicality. A goal machine was what was lacking in the team and it was clearly seen from the first game against Croatia.