Nigerian Players Abroad – After a weekend of interruption of league matches due to the international break, League matches will resume this weekend across major European Leagues and Nigerian players are expected to be in thick of the action for their respective clubs in Europe.
Allnigeriafootball.com serves you a detailed preview of this weekend matches, latest news and match facts involving Nigerian players plying their trade in five major European Leagues.
English Premier League (England)
Brighton & Hove Albion Vs Leicester City, 31st March, Kick-off: 3 pm
The Nigerian duo of Kelechi Iheanacho and Wilfred Ndidi will be at The American Express Community Stadium on Saturday afternoon when 8th placed Leicester City plays away to 12th placed Brighton & Hove Albion.
Ndidi, Iheanacho, and teammates should expect a tough match from Brighton & Hove Albion who has won their last four home matches in all competition including a shock 2-1 success early this month against Alex Iwobi’s Arsenal, while Leicester City’s 4-1 away success against bottom-placed West Bromwich Albion in their last away match was their first victory in six away matches.
Wilfred Ndidi is in line to make his 31st Premier League start of the season, he has played full 90 minutes in all 30 previous matches which he started for Leicester City this season. He has accumulated a total of 2,671 minutes, received 7 yellow cards, 1 red card and is yet to score a goal for Leicester City in the Premier League this season.
Kelechi Iheanacho is doubtful for this weekend’s match as a result of the slight finger injury he picked up on international duty for Nigeria. He has started just 3 games for Leicester City in the Premier League this season, played a total of 455 minutes and has one premier league goal to his credit.
Arsenal Vs Stoke City, 1st April, Kick-off: 12:30 pm
Alex Iwobi’s Arsenal will welcome Stoke City to the Emirates Stadium in Sunday’s early kick-off. Stoke defeated Arsene Wenger’s side 1-0 earlier this season and are looking to do the league double over them for the first time since the 1975-76 season.
Arsenal has endured a miserable season but still boast of a decent home record where Arsenal have collected 35 out of their 48 points this season. Arsenal is sixth on the log and are 13 points adrift of Tottenham Hotspur who occupy the fourth position and the last Champions League spot.
Alex Iwobi has made 15 Premier League starts for Arsenal this season, played a total of 1261 minutes and has two goals to his credit. Alex this season has suffered a lot of criticism from Arsenal fans who seems frustrated by his displays in the colours of Arsenal, but Arsene Wenger has surprisingly kept faith with the youngster and he may get the nod to start in Sunday’s game against Stoke City at the Emirates.
Chelsea Vs Tottenham Hotspur, 1st April, Kick-off: 3 pm
Victor Moses’ Chelsea welcomes London bitter rivals Tottenham Hotspur to Stamford Bridge on Sunday afternoon. Chelsea is looking to do the double over Tottenham for the first time since the 2005-06 season, having beaten Mauricio Pochettino’s side 2-1 earlier in the season.
Tottenham have not won in 25 Premier League matches at Stamford Bridge, the most games a team has gone without a victory at a single ground in the Premier League and on the other hand Chelsea have not won two league games in a row since December. They have been beaten four times in nine league games this year.
All indicators point to an epic match at Stamford Bridge on Sunday afternoon, Chelsea is 5 points behind Tottenham Hotspur in the race for 4th spot and Champions League qualification next season. This is a must-win match for Antonio Conte and his men if they desire Champions League football next season.
Victor Moses is expected to start at right wing-back for Chelsea against Tottenham Hotspur, he has started 19 League matches for Chelsea this season, played a total of 1596 minutes and has 2 Premier League goals to his name this season.
The form of Victor Moses this season has been erratic and a far cry from the excellent displays that endeared him to the hearts of Chelsea fans across the world last season, he seems to have the fundamental problem of getting quality crosses into the opponent’s vital area for Chelsea strikers to feed on, but we all hope he gets his acts right on Sunday against a formidable Spurs team.
Spanish La Liga (Spain)
Las Palmas Vs Real Madrid, 31st March, Kick-off: 5:30 pm
Las Palmas trio of Imoh Ezekiel, Oghenekaro Etebo, and Emmanuel Emenike will host Real Madrid at the Estadio de Gran Canaria on Saturday evening, Paco Jemez and his men are in a very tough position after Levante snatched two wins on the bounce to create a six-point gap between them and Las Palmas as the battle for survival reaches a crescendo.
The Canaries are thus desperate for a winning streak of their own, but starting one will be a mission impossible against Zidane’s Real Madrid. Real Madrid has been the dominant side over the course of history with 6 wins, 2 draws and 1 loss in 9 games.
Nonetheless, the Canaries have managed to pull off two upsets holding Los Blancos to draws in two of the last three matches between the two teams. Real Madrid, however, claimed a comfortable 3-0 victory when the two sides met earlier this season at the Bernabeu.
Imoh Ezekiel who switched to Las Palmas in the January transfer season has made just two substitute appearances this season in the Spanish La Liga, he has played a total of 58 minutes with no goal scored and he is likely to be on the bench for the match against Real Madrid on Saturday evening.
Oghenekaro Etebo is still struggling with injury and is doubtful for this match however before the injury Etebo was outstanding for Las Palmas starting 7 straight La Liga games and helping them garner some crucial points which include the draw against League leaders Barcelona.
Etebo has played a total of 586 minutes for Las Palmas this season in La Liga, he has one yellow card for all his troubles and no goal yet to his name.
Emmanuel Emenike has not kicked a ball since his January transfer to Las Palmas from Greek giants Olympiakos, coach of Las Palmas Paco Jemez had complained bitterly about Emenike being overweight and not fit for competitive football, he said Emenike is not in his plans for now and will not feature in any match until he becomes match fit.
Malaga Vs Villarreal, 1st April, Kick-off: 5:30 pm
Isaac Success and Brown Ideye’s bottom-placed Malaga entertain a Villarreal side looking to take a step closer to securing European football next season at La Rosaleda on Sunday evening.
Villarreal won 2-0 at the La Rosaleda last season, thanks to first-half goals from Jaume Costa and Nicola Sansone. Although football predictions are always tricky to pull off, a similar scoreline could be on the cards here. Malaga has only won three league matches all season and is currently on a 14-match run without a league victory.
Malaga has the worst home record in the division and has scored just 10 goals in front of their own fans in the whole of 2017/18 season, while Villarreal, on the other hand, goes into the weekend match fifth on the La Liga table.
Brown Ideye since his move from Tianjin Teda in January has played 7 matches for Malaga in La Liga this season and started in 5 of them, he has played a total of 478 minutes and scored one goal. He is almost certain to partner the Moroccan Youssef En-Nesyri in attack this weekend.
Isaac Success is fit for this weekend match after series of battle with match fitness, he has made 2 starts for Malaga in the league this season, played a total of 127 minutes and no goal yet to his credit. If Isaac Success doesn’t start the weekend match against Villarreal then he is likely to come in at some point in the game.
Italian Seria A (Italy)
Cagliari Vs Torino, 31st March, Kick-off: 2 pm
Torino’s dream of featuring in the Europa League next season seems to have evaporated as they have now lost four in a row but can the Granata avoid tumbling further down the table as they play away to Cagliari on Saturday afternoon at the Sardegna Arena?
Walter Mazzarri was brought in to try and turn things around for Torino, but so far, it hasn’t been working. Torino hasn’t won an away match since the start of the new year, with three draws and two losses so far. They’ve also drawn a whopping 12 of their Serie A games, meaning that valuable points have been dropped over the course of the season. As for Cagliari, the Sardinians come into this game having earned a vital 2-1 win over Benevento in their last match.
Joel Obi seems to have finally overcome his injury woes, he has started 15 league games for Torino this season, playing a total of 1024 minutes and with an impressive tally of 4 Seria A goals while playing from the midfield. Joel Obi has been very impressive for Torino this season and is set to make his 16th league start of the season against Cagliari on Saturday afternoon.
Fiorentina Vs Crotone, 31st March, Kick-off: 2 pm
Fiorentina will hope to continue their mini-revival as they welcome Crotone on Saturday afternoon at the Stadio Artemio Franchi in Florence. The Viola have won three on the spin in what has been a very difficult month for the Tuscan club.
Crotone has lost nine of their 13 away games and Fiorentina have an overall solid home record. Yes, there was that shock 4-1 defeat to Hellas Verona, but they have won six out of their home fixtures this season.
Crotone has lost three of their last four league games and has failed to score in nearly half of their away games. In fact, only Benevento, Verona, Genoa, Sassuolo and Chievo have scored fewer goals than Crotone’s 27 this term.
Nigerian attacker Simeon Nwankwo will be hoping to get a chance to play his 15th league game for Crotone this season, he has played 14 league matches already and started in two of them, played a total of 406 minutes and has one goal to his name.
Simeon Nwankwo is in his second season with Crotone since joining from Gil Vicente at the start of 2016/2017 season, he played 21 league matches for Crotone last season and scored 3 goals.
German Bundesliga (Germany)
Hannover 96 Vs RasenBallsport Leipzig, 31st March, Kick-off: 2:30 pm
RB Leipzig has bounced back in style from what looked like a dip in form when they dispatched the runaway leaders Bayern Munich 2-1 two weeks ago in front of their home fans to stay in the contest for a top-four finish at the end of the season.
Ralph Hasenhuttl’s men have a fantastic opportunity to back up such result by clinching a second victory on the bounce on Saturday afternoon when they travel to HDI-Arena to tackle the out-of-form Hannover 96 side.
HDI-Arena used to be a fortress back in the first part of the season, but Hannover 96 have seen a sudden drop in form of late and the home team fans really do not have much to hope for ahead of Leipzig’s visit on Saturday afternoon.
Nigerian born Noah-Joel Sarenren-Bazee is expected to be in action for Hannover 96, Bazee has been injured since December last year and just returned to action two weeks ago as Hannover 96 lost 1-0 away to Borussia Dortmund. Bazee has played just 3 matches for Hannover 96 this season and all have been substitute appearances, accumulating a total playing time of 68 minutes with no goal to his name yet.
Hertha Berlin Vs Wolfsburg, 31st March, Kick-off: 7:30 pm
Wolfsburg has been in terrible form of late and they’ve fallen down to the 15th place in the league as a result. Bruno Labbadia has completely failed to shift team’s fortunes around since taking charge as Wolfsburg have lost six and drawn one of last seven games across all competitions under his leadership.
Given that Hertha Berlin has one of the best defensive records in the entire league, it certainly looks like Wolfsburg would need a miracle to avoid a defeat at Olympiastadion Berlin. Pal Dardai’s men will have an excellent opportunity to pick up another victory after their success over Hamburger SV just before the international break.
The young Nigerian striker Victor James Osimhen has only started in 2 games out of the 10 he has played for Wolfsburg in the league this season. He has played a total of 223 minutes and is yet to score his first Bundesliga goal for Wolfsburg. He should make his 11th league appearance this weekend.
Mainz 05 Vs Borussia Monchengladbach, 1st April, Kick-off: 5 pm
Mainz 05 have continued to struggle for goals this season and they have gone three straight games without scoring a single goal, two weeks ago they lost 3-0 away at Eintracht Frankfurt. Mainz 05 are now down at the 16th place and they are joint holders of the relegation playoffs spot together with Wolfsburg.
The visitors are not actually better, they have won just one of last eight league matches and are seven points adrift of the last Europa League spot at the moment. Dieter Hecking can’t be happy at all with his side’s defensive performances of late since Gladbach has shipped as many as eight goals in last three league ties. Sandro Schwarz’s men have been terrible at home as Mainz 05 have lost four of last six games in front of the home crowd.
Leon Balogun is doubtful for the weekend match against Monchengladbach after suffering a slight illness on international duty for the Super Eagles of Nigeria. The 29-year-old German-born Nigerian defender has played 24 games for Mainz 05 this season and started in 12 of those games, he has played a total of 996 minutes for Mainz 05 and has been sent off once this season.
The other Nigerian on the books of Mainz 05 is Anthony Ujah, he is fully fit and ready to fire on all cylinders this weekend as he goes in search of his first Bundesliga goal of the season for Mainz 05, he has played 7 times for Mainz 05 this season and started in 2 of those matches. Cumulatively he has played 167 minutes in the league and is yet to register a goal to his name.
French Ligue 1 (France)
Nantes Vs Saint-Etienne, 1st April, Kick-off: 5 pm
Nantes form has improved in recent weeks which is the good news but the bad news is that they have been drawing too many games. This means that the club is now in 6th place and need to finish in 5th if they have hopes of playing European football next year. They are just 1 point behind Rennes but also have Montpellier and Nice breathing down their necks.
St Etienne is unbeaten in 9 weeks and will feel confident that they can give Nantes a good game. Away from home, they come into this match on back to back draws but that includes an impressive result at Lyon.
Chidozie Awaziem has been in good form for Nantes this season which is a sharp contrast to the shambolic display that he put up against Serbia. He has started 14 games for Nantes this season, played a total of 1288 minutes and has scored one goal, bearing any unforeseen occurrence he should start his 15th league game for Nantes against Saint Etienne this weekend at La Beaujoire.