Javier Mascherano: Nigeria will be tough

Javier Mascherano: Nigeria will be tough
Javier Mascherano (L) and talks with the coach of the Argentinian team, Jorge Sampaoli (R)

by Graeme Jackson

Monday Jun 11, 2018. 12:30

Argentina defender Javier Mascherano says Nigeria will be tough opponents at the 2018 World Cup.

The South American heavyweights, who enter Russia 2018 as one of the outright favourites, will face Iceland, Croatia and the Super Eagles in Group D of the tournament.

The Argentina v Nigeria match on June 26 in Saint Petersburg will see the teams face off for a fifth World Cup – having also met in 1994, 2002, 2010 and 2014 – while they also met in a friendly as recently as November last year.

“And Nigeria are quite well known to us, we’ve always met in the last World Cups,” the veteran defender told The Guardian.

“They’re tough, not just because of their physical power, but because their disorganisation has the effect of disorganising you as a rival. And that’s when teams like ours suffer the most – in disorder.”

He added, “Iceland are a new team in the sense that they maybe don’t have a long football tradition but they’re a generation of players that have made history recently, with spectacular success at Euro 16, and qualifying ahead of Croatia.

“Croatia are a first-class side with top players, especially in the midfield, such as Modric, Brozovic, Kovacic, Rakitic… Perisic; a team to watch out, quality squad."

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