Both teams started in different ways, one team took a dream scenario and made it a reality and the other played a flat game and didn’t show the world its full potential, especially up front. This is why Nigeria vs Iceland makes such a great game.
Iceland with its stout defense, clean counterattack and passionate all for one attitude took a well deserved 1-1 draw from group favorites Argentina. Nigeria on the other hand, as expected could not rely on their defensive framework and their creative flair was left in the locker room as they could not get the ball past Croatian netminder Danijel Subasic.
The Group is pretty straightforward right now. With Croatia on 3 points, Iceland and Argentina with 1 point apiece and Nigeria in the rear with 0 points. It is not all doom and gloom as Nigeria with a victory over Iceland can take a commanding lead in the race for 2nd place. They should hope that Croatia take the loss to Argentina or they come to a draw as that will ease the group if Argentina comes away with 2 points in their first two matches which is less than ideal for the Messi lead team.
Breaking down the Icelandic defense is no easy feat, as shown by a team technical gifted and lead by arguably the world’s best player (something that Cristiano Ronaldo showed he is with those 3 goals in the game against Spain). Iceland always set up in a 4-5-1 with Gylfi Sigurðsson playing in a free-flowing creative role based on the needs of his team. Don’t expect Iceland to play that granite-like defense against Nigeria. That set up is for teams where they know it’s easier defend with your life and counter-attack or loses. 4-5-1 will be the formation but in a much more offensive framework with possibly the inclusion of Arnór Ingvi Traustason on the wing to help Gylfi set up a more fluid paced attack with his speed (which can match up with the godlike pace of Nigeria).
Nigeria won’t change their formation and outlook as much, Nigeria plays their game and that’s it. Pace, quickness, and speed. But and this is a big but, its important as ever for the Super Eagles, they will need (in reality they HAVE TO) to be more clinical in front of the net, as they had the chances with Croatia, with 14 shots and only 2 hitting the net. That isn’t round of 16 material and they will need to find their vertical passing game against Iceland or face elimination with a loss here (mathematically a draw can still see them through but it won’t be easy).
Iceland is big game darlings, as shown with their final eight advancements in the European Championship in 2016 and the elimination of England in that same tournament. Nigeria needs more work offensively to take that extra step and unless Moses, Iwobi, and friends take that extra step it will be a short visit to Russia for the Super Eagles. Unfortunately, too many people don’t believe still in the Iceland framework, but I have turned the corner on them and believe they keep the clean sheet and take a 1-0 victory to the last match day and the chance to come out on top in Group D.