Nigeria will do its best to stay alive in the FIFA Women’s World Cup when they take on host nation France on Monday. The French are heavy favorites with a 2.5-goal spread and a moneyline of -833. Meanwhile, the Super Falcons of Nigeria have a moneyline of +2137 with a draw listed at +609.
The Nigerians suffered a rough start to the tournament, losing their opener to Norway 3-0. However, they did well to bounce back, beating South Korea 2-0. A win over France will secure a spot in the knockout stage, although a draw will be enough too. Even with a loss, Nigeria could sneak into the final 16. But against the heavily-favored French, a lopsided loss could mean the end of their tournament.
Meanwhile, Les Bleues has already secured a spot in the knockout stage. France has all but locked up first place in Group A as well. They would likely need to lose by multiple goals to have any chance of not winning the group, so a win or draw would be enough to finish atop the group.
Big and Bad
France has looked the part of a tournament favorite in their first two games. They’ve scored six goals and conceded just one. Perhaps more importantly, they’ve scored in a variety of ways. They’ve scored goals off set pieces with center backs Wendie Renard and Griedge Mbock Bathy looking strong in the air. Creative midfielders Amadine Henry and Eugenie Le Sommer have also let their presence be known. Both will have to continue to shine against a Nigeria team that will sit deep and defend, knowing a draw puts them through.
If there’s one potential issue with France, it could be complacency. The French side took their foot off the gas a little in their last game against Norway, inviting their opponent to take chances going forward. That’s something they’ll want to avoid against a fast and powerful Nigeria team. There’s also a chance the French don’t field their best team, as there could be some squad rotation with their spot in the last 16 already secure.
Fly Falcons Fly
Despite being far from their best in this tournament, Nigeria showed flashes against South Korea of what they’re capable of doing, especially on the counterattack. Asisat Oshoala, in particular, is dangerous when she has room to dribble, as we saw during her 75h-minute goal against the Koreans. If the French aren’t careful with their defensive shape when the ball turns over, Oshoala can create problems for their center backs.
As mentioned, the Super Falcons will be happy to spend most of the game in defensive blocks. They’ll try to keep France from scoring because all they need is a tie. Nigeria also knows that they can spring forward quickly when France pushes too far up the field and score goals on the counterattack. It’s a game plan that worked against South Korea, and they’ll take their chances with it against France.
Nigeria is a little dangerous, but France isn’t going to allow themselves to have a letdown on home soil. Covering the 2.5-goal spread is unlikely, especially if the French sit some of their regulars. However, you shouldn’t be afraid to bet the moneyline on France winning the game.