France coach Didier Deschamps used his side’s final group stage game against Ecuador to rest a number of regular starters, yet he’s not fully without injury worries ahead of Monday’s round of 16 encounter with Nigeria.
Liverpool defender Mamadou Sakho escaped punishment for his elbow against the South Americans, yet seems likely to miss out on the game versus Nigeria after all due to injury. The former Paris Saint-Germain centre-back is struggling with a hamstring problem and Deschamps is unlikely to take any risks. With Laurent Koscielny recovering from an Achilles tendon injury, Eliaquim Mangala could get the nod at centre-back alongside Raphael Varane. Furthermore, Paul Pogba and Moussa Sissoko will both be hopeful of starting in midfield, with the Juventus star currently sitting in pole position to feature from the first whistle.
Meanwhile, Nigeria coach Stephen Keshi has some injury problems of his own after the narrow 3-2 loss to Argentina in his side’s final group fixture. Midfielder Michael Babatunde sustained a freak arm injury in that game and is unlikely to return to full fitness before the end of the tournament. Additionally, there are still doubts over the fitness of Victor Moses, who has made just one appearance so far due to a muscular problem.
Moses could take Babatunde’s place in the starting XI, but Michael Uchebo remains an option as well after coming off the bench against Argentina. Up front, Keshi is likely to put his faith in Peter Odemwingie, Emmanuel Emenike and Ahmed Musa once more as Nigeria have set their sights on reaching the quarter-finals for the first time in their history.
This will be only the second international meeting between France and Nigeria. The Super Eagles won the previous meeting 1-0 in Saint-Etienne back in June 2009.
Les Blues have lost two of their last three World Cup matches against African nations (2002 vs Senegal and 2010 vs South Africa). They beat Togo between these two defeats, in 2006.
Nigeria have scored a goal in all but one of their previous 10 World Cup finals matches against European sides.
The Super Eagles are aiming to become just the fourth African side to make the quarter finals of a World Cup tournament (after Cameroon in 1990, Senegal in 2002 and Ghana in 2010).
Nigeria have only won one of their last 11 World Cup matches.
Nigeria have lost both of their previous World Cup second round ties, 1-2 vs Italy in 1994 and 1-4 vs Denmark in 1998.
All of France’s goals during this World Cup have come from inside the box.
France have won all three of their previous second round ties at the World Cup (2-0 vs Italy in 1986, 1-0 vs Paraguay in 1998 and 3-1 vs Spain in 2006).
Les Blues attempted more shots at goal (50) than any other side during the 2014 World Cup group stages.
Nigerian goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama kept more clean sheets than any other goalkeeper during the 2013-14 French Ligue 1 season for Lille.
On the last five occasions that France have progressed past round 1 in the World Cup, they have reached the semi-final stage (1958, 1982, 1986, 1998 and 2006).
Karim Benzema has scored nine goals in his last nine appearances for France, including three goals in his three appearances at this World Cup.