The World Cup’s round of 16 continues Monday with a pair of intriguing matchups (all times EDT):
France vs. Nigeria in Brasilia, noon, ESPN
Germany vs. Algeria in Porto Alegre, 4 p.m., ESPN
At stake: Monday’s winners square off in the quarterfinals on Friday at noon.
France vs. Nigeria
France opened the World Cup with two group-match wins, which ensured them a spot in the top 16 — a feat that much of their European brethren, including Italy, Spain and England, couldn’t do. The player to watch for France is No. 10 Karim Benzema. The Real Madrid striker has been outstanding, playing a near-perfect game against Switzerland, which earned him the coveted “Man of the Match” title.
Nigeria, meanwhile, is dealing with a few injuries, which will keep Michael Babatunde and possibly Victor Moses on the bench. The front of the field should remain stacked, however, with players such as Peter Odemwingie, Emmanuel Emenike and Ahmed Musa. If they win, it will be the first time the country has ever reached the quarterfinals.
Germany vs. Algeria
This is arguably the most lopsided of matches in the final 16. Germany is a powerhouse. Algeria, well, just isn’t. Thomas Muller has so far scored four goals in this World Cup and he is likely to tack onto that number against Algeria. He may have some competition from his own team, however, as Germany has plenty more options to make attacks, including Mesut Ozil, Toni Kroos, Lukas Podolski and Mario Gotze.
Algeria will likely rely more on its defense than its offense as it hopes to keep Germany’s numerous attackers at bay. That said, Algeria and its fans have shown immense heart, which could give them the adrenaline necessary to pull out an upset. Plus, Algeria’s got a 32-year-old score to settle. The Guardian writes:
Algeria has beaten Germany in the World Cup before, defeating the then-West Germany 2-1 in Spain in 1982, but what followed was shameful. After also defeating Chile, Algeria was on the verge of qualifying for the knockout stage. West Germany met Austria in the final group game, with a narrow German victory enough for both teams to go through — and eliminate Algeria.
After an early German goal, the two kicked the ball around aimlessly without trying to score again. The cynical display has gone down in the annals of footballing infamy as “the Shame of Gijon.”
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