France have done really well so far in their mission to exorcise the ghosts of the 2010 World Cup – romping to wins in their first two games, before ensuring top place and with it a winnable last 16 clash. Nigeria, their opponents in the round of 16 match in Brasilia, will, of course, have other ideas, and it will be up to this exciting French lineup to continue making the World Cup a more memorable one, rather than what might have been.
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Get the report France vs Nigeria HERE
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The round of 16 game is set for a 1 pm local time (9.30 pm IST, 5 pm BST, 12 pm ET) start, with live telecast on Sony Six in India. The match can also be watched via live streaming online in India HERE. the match can ve live streamed by viewers in France HERE. Viewers in the US can catch the action on ESPN and ABC, with the option to live stream the game HERE or HERE. UK viewers can catch the action in BBC and ITV while the matches can also be live streamed HERE or HERE. Catch the game in Australia HERE, while South Africa viewers can do so HERE. Viewers in Africa can catch the action HERE, while audience in the Middle East and North Africa can live stream the match HERE.
Didier Deschamps has woven a tight unit who seem to be enjoying each other's company both on and off the field, and France will look to do their jobs in what would be a mouthwatering quarterfinal with Germany, if they go on and win their own last 16 clash against Algeria.
"There have been some ups and downs in the past few years that's true," France skipper Hugo Lloris said on Sunday. "But since the return leg against Ukraine we have noticed a change, a rekindled fondness from the fans," he added.
"We have done what we needed and made the effort on the pitch to make the fans happy so far but we want to go further."
The 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil began swimmingly for France, with a comfortable enough win over Honduras, before they really hit their stride against Switzerland – Karim Benzema and Olivier Grioud, their two big strikers having a really good game.
With qualification from Group E virtually assured, Deschamps rested several of his first-choice players for the final match group stage against Ecuador, and the France camp will look at that particular 0-0 draw as an exception, having scored a combined eight goals in their first two games.
"It's good to have done well in the first games," Deschamps said after the stalemate with the South Americans. "It good for confidence and we will seek to keep that up.
"In the World Cup, the shirt always weighs a bit more heavily. We had the aim of qualifying, if possible in first place, and we have done that. We're very pleased but it's not over."
France cannot afford another off day anymore, with the knockout rounds particularly severe on teams who take their eyes off the ball for just a second. Deschamps, however, will have plenty of his first-teamers back in the lineup and that should bode well in overcoming a tricky Nigeria, who have shown they can give any team in the World Cup a run for their money.
"Before the competition we were never labelled as one of the favourites," Lloris added. "It's true we had some good matches in the group phase but it's like a new tournament now.
"You need a lot of energy and a lot of concentration at his stage if you want to get through. We will need to be focused and this kind of match will be decided on a detail so we will need to be vigilant right until the end."
Nigeria got through to the round of 16 despite losing their final group game 3-2 to Argentina in a thrilling end-to-end encounter. Bosnia-Herzegovina, the only team that Nigeria beat in the group stages, did the Africans a favour by topping Iran, who needed a victory to stand a chance of qualifying.
Now that the African champions have managed to reach their first goal of qualifying for the knockout rounds, they will plan their next assault of toppling the favourites and reaching their first World Cup quarterfinal.
"I think this World Cup has been an open tournament, I have never seen a World Cup like this before, you can never tell what is going to happen on the field for 90 minutes," Nigeria coach Stephen Keshi said. "Lots of surprises coming up and we should keep hanging in there."
However, Nigeria also seem to have caught the off-field issues bug that other African teams have employed at this World Cup, with their buildup to the match against France disrupted seriously after their players refused to train over a pay dispute.
Nigeria president Goodluck Jonathan had to intervene to ensure the players would be available for this crunch clash, but it is hardly the ideal preparation. France, of course, will know the pitfalls of internal disputes, but Deschamps and co. will want to concentrate on their jobs at hand alone, rather than worrying about the issues with their opponents.
Team news: France: Deschamps will go back to a first-choice lineup, which means the likes of Mathieu Valbuena, Giroud, Patrice Evra, Raphael Varane, Mathieu Debuchy and Yohan Cabaye, who was suspended against Ecuador, should all come back in.
Doubts still linger over the fitness of Mamadou Sakho, who limped out of France's last two matches, and if the central defender is not passed fit, Laurent Koscielny will deputise. "We will see today how he responds," Deschamps said about Sakho on Sunday. "He did some running yesterday. I will decide later whether he can play or not."
Nigeria: Midfielder Michael Babatunde is ruled out after fracturing his wrist in the final group game against Argentina, and Victor Moses, who has struggled with injury, could replace him.
Key men: France: Karim Benzema has been brilliant at this World Cup and will be the go-to guy for France again. "Benzema has extraordinary movement which underpins the team's play," Deschamps said of his striker who has bagged three goals and plenty more assists. "We have always focused on his contribution apart from his goals, which is something that doesn't happen elsewhere."
Benzema, however, did struggle to make an impact without the help of Valbuena, in particular, and the playmaker's vision and cutting edge will be important to break down Nigeria's backline.
Nigeria: Ahmed Musa scored two wonderful goals against Argentina, and will definitely be a threat, while striker Emanuel Emenike will also need to chip in if the African side are to down the French.
Expected lineups: France: Lloris; Debuchy, Varane, Koscielny, Evra; Sissoko, Cabaye, Matuidi; Valbuena, Giroud, Benzema.
Nigeria: Enyeama; Ambrose, Yobo, Oshaniwa, Omeruo; Onazi, Mikel; Moses, Odemwingie, Musa; Emenike.
Prediction: 2-1 to France