England Women and Nigeria Women will go head-to-head in the last 16 of the Women’s World Cup 2023 on Monday, Reelradio.com.ng reports.
The Lionesses picked up maximum points to finish top of their group, while Nigeria progressed from a tricky group that contained Australia and Canada.
England are dreaming of following last year’s European Championship success with their first Women’s World Cup trophy after winning all three of their group games.
Despite beginning the tournament with 1-0 wins over Haiti and Denmark, the Lionesses were unable to find their best form in their opening two games, raising questions as to whether they could challenge for the top prize at this tournament.
Influenced by the injury to Keira Walsh, England boss Sarina Wiegman decided to make a tactical change for the final group game against China, switching from a 4-3-3 to a 3-4-1-2 formation, allowing Lauren James to operate in a number 10 role behind Alessia Russo and Lauren Hemp.
The new formation caught China off guard, and England took full advantage, cruising to a statement 6-1 victory thanks to a James brace as well as goals from Russo, Hemp, Chloe Kelly and Rachel Daly.
England, who have never lost a competitive game under Wiegman, will now turn their attention to the knockout rounds, and they will look to draw inspiration from the fact that they have won both of their previous two last-16 ties at the Women’s World Cup.
Nigeria, meanwhile, are competing in the knockout rounds for the third time in the tournament’s history after navigating their way through a difficult group.
They held Olympic champions Canada to a goalless draw in their opening game, before pulling off a surprise 3-2 victory over tournament co-hosts Australia on Matchday Two.
They played out another goalless affair in their final group match against the Republic of Ireland to advance to the last 16 alongside Australia.
After enjoying a successful group phase, the Super Falcons will now be looking to claim their first-ever victory in the knockout rounds of the Women’s World Cup.
Having gone five games without defeat, Nigeria will certainly believe that they have the capability to trouble the European champions and create another piece of history.
After implementing a 3-4-1-2 formation against China, Wiegman is expected to name an unchanged lineup for Monday’s last-16 tie.
Jess Carter will retain her place in a back three alongside her Chelsea teammate Millie Bright and Manchester City’s Alex Greenwood.
Having netted three goals in the last two games, James will be looking to continue her fine form when she features against Nigeria.
As for Nigeria, Deborah Abiodun will return from a two-match suspension after being given a red card in the opening game against Canada.
Abiodun may have to settle for a place on the bench, with Nigeria boss Randy Waldrum likely to name an unchanged lineup for Monday’s encounter.
Barcelona’s Asisat Oshoala is expected to lead the line, and she will be looking to add to the goal that she scored in the win over Australia on Matchday Two.
England vs Nigeria Head-to-Head and Key Numbers
• This will be the fourth meeting between the two sides. They first clashed at the 1995 World Cup, with England claiming a 3-2 win, while Nigeria won friendlies in 2002 and 2004 1-0 and 3-0 respectively.
•England are seeking to qualify for the quarterfinal for a fifth straight time.
•Nigeria have not scored in four World Cup games against European opposition, losing three.
•England have not conceded from open play in five games.
•Nigeria are unbeaten in their last six games, winning four.
England predicted starting XI:
Earps; Carter, Bright, Greenwood; Bronze, Zelem, Stanway, Daly; James; Russo, Hemp
Nigeria predicted starting XI:
Nnadozie; Alozie, Ohale, Demehin, Plumptre; Ucheibe, Ayinde; Ajibade, Payne, Kanu; Oshoala
On paper, England are overwhelming favourites to progress, but the Nigerian ladies have proven to be a difficult opposition at the Women’s World Cup this year.
We say a 1-1 regulation time score with winner to be decided on penalties.