WORLD CUP TODAY: MONDAY, JUNE 30
This is turning out to be the tournament that just keeps on giving. Long may that continue. Penalty shootout drama between Greece and Costa Rica, plus a dramatic late win for the Netherlands over Mexico, made Sunday a right humdinger.
On Monday the round of 16 continues as two European powerhouse face off against African upstarts. France play Nigeria, then Germany face Algeria, as a day of drama, excitement and potential upsets awaits.
France have been on fire so far, scoring eight goals and topping their group. As for Nigeria, they are delighted to be in the knockout round for the first-time since 1998. In the other match-up, much fancied Germany take on the Desert Foxes in what should be an intriguing battle in Porto Alegre.
Let’s take a look at both encounters, up close.
MATCH 53: FRANCE VS. NIGERIA
France have recovered from the embarrassment in 2010 superbly, smashing five past Switzerland and three past Honduras in the group stage. Karim Benzema has three goals to his name and will prove to be a real handful for Nigeria. The Super Eagles will be looking to their ‘keeper Vincent Enyeama (he made more saves than any other goalkeeper in the group stages with 18) to thwart the French in Brazil’s capital city.
What they’re saying
French midfielder Yohan Cabaye is warning against arrogance: “Confidence shouldn’t become arrogance because that’s when you have problems.”
They have only played once before, Nigeria winning a friendly 1-0 in St Etienne back in 2009.
Premier League Players
France: Hugo Lloris (Tottenham Hotspur), Mathieu Debuchy (Newcastle), Bacary Sagna (Manchester City), Mamadou Sakho (Liverpool), Patrice Evra (Manchester United), Laurent Koscielny (Arsenal), Moussa Sissokho (Newcastle), Morgan Schneiderlin (Southampton), Olivier Giroud (Arsenal), Loic Remy (QPR).
Germany’s offense exploded in a 4-0 win over Portugal in their World Cup opener, but a 2-2 draw vs. Ghana and unconvincing 1-0 win over the U.S. have followed. Head coach Joachim Low has asked his side to improve, as Das Mannschaft aim to make their ninth-straight World Cup quarterfinal. As for Algeria, they have never made it to the knockout stages of a World Cup. Anything is a bonus for the Desert Foxes whose staunch defensive display surprise everyone in the group stages. Algeria are claiming this game is all about revenge, as they call Germany’s 1-0 win over Austria in the 1982 World Cup (a result which meant both Germany and Austria advanced at Algeria’s expense) the ‘Disgrace of Gijon.’ There will be no love lost in this battle.
What they’re saying
German coach Low is upset by the ‘Disgrace of Gijon’ comments: “I find it irritating when I read that this is a match about vengeance. Why should players who weren’t even born then want revenge? Maybe some on the other side want to make an issue out of it to motivate Algeria.”
Algeria have faced Germany twice … and they’ve won both times. 2-1 during their 1982 World Cup match, as they became the first African side to beat a European nation. They also won a friendly 2-0 back in 1964.
Premier League players
Algeria: Riyad Mahrez (Leicester City), Nabil Bentaleb (Tottenham Hotspur)