England vs Nigeria odds and betting statistics
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England vs Nigeria match preview
Are England doing what all major tournament winners hope to do, peaking at the right time?
The Lionesses began this campaign with two unconvincing wins, beating both debutants Haiti and then Denmark by a solitary goal to nil.
But then, on Tuesday, Sarina Wiegman switched to to back three and this paid off in spectacular fashion, with the European Champions demolishing China PR 6-1 at Hindmarsh Stadium.
Alessia Russo opening the scoring in the fourth minute, Lauren Hemp burst in-behind to score a second, before Lauren James bagged a majestic brace, that would’ve been a hat-trick if it wasn’t for a baffling VAR decision.
Nevertheless, the rout was completed by Chloe Kelly, who rolled the ball into an unguarded net, having rounded Zhū Yù, and then Rachel Daly, who was thoroughly deserving of her first major tournament goal.
This is just the fourth time the Lionesses have scored 6+ in a major tournament match, also doing so against Argentina in 2007, Scotland in 2017 and Norway a year ago.
So, despite an always growing injury list, there is increasing optimism that England can go all the way this summer.
The first team in their way in the knockout stages are Nigeria, a side also yet to taste defeat Down Under, having been mightily impressive during the group phase.
First, the Super Falcons held Canada to a goalless draw in Melbourne, with Chiamaka Nnadozie the hero, saving a spot-kick, and this would ultimately prove decisive.
Six days later, Nigeria enjoyed, arguably, their most famous win to date, beating hosts Australia 3-2, with Uchenna Kanu, Osinachi Ohale and Asisat Oshoala all on target in an historic victory.
Thus, Randy Waldrum’s team required just a point against Republic of Ireland on Monday to get through and achieved just that, playing out an uneventful goalless game against the already eliminated Irish.
Nigeria are World Cup ever-presents, one of just seven nations who can claim that, although they’ve only ever won five of 29 matches at the finals.
Here, the 11-times WAFCON winners will be aiming to win a World Cup knockout game for the first time ever, having previously lost to Brazil in 1999 and Germany four summers ago.
So, will England be too strong at Lang Park in Brisbane, setting up a quarter-final clash with Colombia or Jamaica in Sydney on Saturday?
England team news
England’s switch to a back three on Tuesday caught everybody by surprise, given that it was just the second time they’d deviated from a four under Sarina Wiegman, the other coming in a 10-0 win in Luxembourg.
This tweak came-about as a result of Kiera Walsh’s knee injury sustained against Denmark, which, thankfully, is not an ACL rupture.
In fact, Wiegman confirmed that Walsh trained on Sunday so, miraculously, is available for selection here, although surely she won’t start, will she?
Laura Coombs came on as Walsh was stretchered off in Sydney, but it was Katie Zelem who partnered Georgia Stanway on Tuesday, starting a senior international for the very first time.
The 3-4-3 shape seems to suit many of England’s stars, with captain Millie Bright comfortable in the middle of the back three, while Lucy Bronze and Rachel Daly are given more freedom to attack as wing-backs.
Alessia Russo ended her mini-goal draught against China PR, while Lauren James’ performances during the group phase have made her undroppable.
Predicted XI (3-4-3): Earps; Carter, Bright, Greenwood; Bronze, Stanway, Zelem, Daly; James, Hemp, Russo.
Nigeria teams news
Star striker Asisat Oshoala’s minutes are currently being managed as she’s eased back following an injury.
The Barcelona forward came off the bench in Nigeria’s win against Australia, scoring the decisive third less than nine minutes after being introduced, before managing just over an hour of action against Ireland.
She’ll lead the line here, with Toni Payne and Uchenna Kanu in-behind, while Rasheedat Ajibade could get the nod over Ifeoma Onumonu on the right-wing.
Teenager Deborah Abiodun, who was a controversial inclusion in the squad anyway, was sent off in their opener and hasn’t feature again thus far.
She’s agreed to join Pittsburgh Panthers following this tournament, a team managed by Nigeria’s head coach Randy Waldrum, so accusations of favouritism were flying around when Abiodun got the nod against Canada.
40 year old centre-back Onome Ebi also deserves a mention, coming on late against both Australia and Ireland, thereby featuring at a seventh different edition of the World Cup, just the fifth player to achieve this.
Predicted XI (4-5-1): Nnadozie; Alozie, Ohale, Demehin, Plumptre; Ucheibe, Ayinde, Payne, Ajibade, Kanu; Oshoala.