The Three Lions of England intensifies preparation for the Mundial in Russia as they tackle the Super Eagles of Nigeria, Gareth Southgate and his men will be eager to impress in their final and farewell match at the Wembley stadium ahead of the trip to Russia.
The Three Lions will come up against a youthful Super Eagles side whose young squad impressed on their way to the finals. With the World Cup set to kick off in just two weeks time, both teams will likely use the match to try out new formations and strategies.
Southgate since taking charge of the team in November last year has gradually imposed his own style of play and tactics on the team, this is evident in the three-man defence and wingbacks with free reign to press further up the pitch that the team has adopted, however it is not clear if the coach will stick to the same style of play or try out other formations in the game against Nigeria.
Finding the back of the net has become an issue for the Three Lions of late, the team has managed to find the back of the net just six times in their last seven games, but defensively, they have been a very solid unit and conceding just twice in the same number of matches.
England last conceded against Slovakia in qualifying, in a 2-1 victory at Wembley stadium back in September 2017, the Three Lions have kept clean sheets against World Cup favourites Brazil and Germany in an impressive defensive display.
The English team have shown signs of improvement under Gareth Southgate and despite being unbeaten in eight games, the Three Lions remain a work in progress under the former centre-back with expectations for the World Cup in Russia a bit lower when compared to previous tournaments.
Southgate has shown a preference for youth ahead of the old guards with the likes of goalkeeper Joe Hart and defender Chris Smalling left out of the squad. Young blood in the form of Nick Pope, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Ruben Loftus-Cheek have been given the opportunity to stake a claim for a permanent shirt in the team.
The Super Eagles of Nigeria will surely provide a tough challenge for the Three Lions at Wembley. The Super Eagles were impressive in qualifying for the World Cup, coming through unscathed in a difficult group involving strong African footballing nations like Algeria, Cameroon and Zambia.
Nigeria was the first African nation to book a place in the World Cup in Russia, when in early October 2017, the Super Eagles through a strike from Arsenal’s Alex Iwobi secured a 1-0 victory over Zambia at the Godswill Akpabio international stadium in Uyo.
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The win against Zambia gave Nigeria an unassailable 13-point lead at the top of Group B, dubbed Africa’s ‘group of death’ due to the inclusion of Algeria and continental champions Cameroon.
Like England, Gernot Rohr’s team are a young side full of energetic and talented prospects which include familiar Premier League players like Victor Moses, Kelechi Iheanacho, Alex Iwobi and Wilfred Ndidi.
Meanwhile, former Blues midfielder John Obi Mikel, who now plays his football for Chinese club Tianjin TEDA is another popular Premier League star in the Nigerian team and he will captain them against England.
Nigeria has one more pre-World Cup friendly lined up after the England game, in which they will face the Czech Republic in Austria before they take on Croatia, Iceland and Argentina in the group stage of the World Cup.
The Super Eagles have beaten Poland and Argentina in some of their recent friendly matches, so it won’t be a stroll in the park for England, even though the hosts are favourites and are expected to win, the Super Eagles will provide a strong opposition that will give Gareth Southgate the opportunity to critically assess his team just before the World Cup.
Head To Head
The two teams have met twice previously and only one of those games was a competitive fixture, it was a 0-0 draw at the 2002 World Cup in the Far East when Sven-Goran Eriksson was in charge of the Three Lions.
The first encounter between England and Nigeria came in a 1994 friendly at the old Wembley Stadium, in which David Platt scored the only goal in a 1-0 win for the Three Lions.
England Vs Nigeria Stats
- England has kept a clean sheet in six of their last seven matches, winning to nil on three occasions.
- Harry Kane has scored seven goals in his six England starts under Gareth Southgate.
- Each of Nigeria’s last ten defeats has seen them fail to find the net.
- The Three Lions have conceded in just three of their nine home games since Southgate took charge.
England Team News
Nigeria Team News
Ex-Chelsea midfielder John Obi Mikel will lead the Nigerian team in Wembley, whilst a handful of former and current Premier League attackers like Ahmed Musa, Odion Ighalo, Alex Iwobi, Victor Moses and Kelechi Iheanacho, will certainly play a part at some point in the match. Leicester City Wilfried Ndidi is ruled out for this match due to injury.
Brighton & Hove Albion supporters could also catch a glimpse of their summer signing Leon Balogun in action in central defence. Moses Simon of Gents is injured and may completely be ruled out of the World Cup if further scan reveals that he will not be fit before the commencement of the World Cup.
England Possible Lineup: Pickford, Walker, Stones, Maguire, Trippier, Rose, Dier, Loftus-Cheek, Sterling, Alli, Kane
Nigeria Possible Lineup: Uzoho, Balogun, Idowu, Shehu, Troost-Ekong, Obi, Onazi, Mikel, Moses, Iwobi, Ighalo
One similarity between both teams is that they have turned to youth to lead them into the World Cup, but on paper, the Three Lions have the edge when it comes to quality. Southgate’s team may have struggled to find the net of late, but Dele Alli’s creativity combined with the goalscoring threat posed by his Spurs teammate Harry Kane is good enough to wreck any defence in the world.
However, the Nigerian team is filled with lots of quality players and can not be written off, they can harm any team in the world on their day. Our prediction for this match is a 1-1 draw. A similar scoreline to the 2002 World Cup fixture between both teams.
Time And TV Station
The Three Lions of England and the Super Eagles of Nigeria international friendly match will take place at the prestigious new Wembley stadium on Saturday, June 2 and Kick off time is 5.15 pm, the match will be shown live on DStv SuperSport 3 and GOtv SuperSport 2. It might also be shown on terrestrial TV like the NTA.