2023 WWC R16 | England vs Nigeria Preview | The Battle Of Falcons And The Lionesses
England Face Nigeria in the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup knockout stage.
FIFA Women’s World Cup has reached the knockout stage with 16 countries fighting to reach the last eight.
The Nigerian Super Falcons set a target of semi-final for themselves prior to the commencement of this tournament and having scaled the preliminary stage, they have set themselves up for another challenge to reach their set target.
At this stage, it is about teams’ abilities to knock each other out within regulated or extra time, and/or via penalty shootout.
The Nigeria women’s national team will square off against the Three Lionesses of England next Monday at the Lang Park Brisbane Stadium, Australia.
In this article, CitySports previews the round of 16 match between these two English-speaking nations, giving you an insight into what to expect, the likely outcomes, and the teams’ reports.
Teams’ Journey So Far
To reach this stage of the tournament both England and Nigeria remained unbeaten in their three previous games.
While the Three Lionesses started slowly with low-scoring victories in their first two games, the Super Falcons surpassed bookmakers’ predictions ahead of their first two matches.
England trashed China 6-1 in their last group D game, while Nigeria were held to a goalless draw by debutants, Republic of Ireland.
England finished top of Group D with nine points conceding just one goal, and Nigeria finished second behind hosts Australia with five points from three games.
How have these two teams faired in their last five matches?
Head-To-Head | Last Five Matches
One exciting factor about these teams is that despite the gap in rankings, both teams have won three of their last matches, and while the Super Falcons had drawn two, the Lionesses have recorded one draw and a loss.
In pre-tournament friendlies, England were beaten by Australia 2-0, drawing 0-0 against Portugal.
The Lionesses have since picked slowly, defeating Haiti and Denmark by 1-0 respectively, before unleashing full power on China whom they spanked 6-1 in their last group game.
Nigeria on the other hand, in pre-tournament friendlies defeated Haiti 2-1, earn a 3-0 victory over co-hosts, New Zealand, and on match day one of the FIFA WWC secured a draw against Olympic champions, Canada, defeated Australia 3-2 before an unexpected draw against the Republic of Ireland in their last group B game.
Both teams have scored eight goals in their last five games, and have allowed three goals each.
England and Nigeria have met once at this level with the Three Lionesses having the upper hand against the Super Falcons in 1995, it ended 3-2 in that encounter.
Nigeria have appeared at all the editions of the FIFA Women’s World Cup with their best outing coming in 2019 when they reached the quarter-final while England have appeared six times with the best outing being a 3rd place in 2015
England are ranked 4th in the world and they are the current European champions, while Nigeria are ranked 40th, the nine-time African champions finished 4th behind Zambia at the last WAFCON
Players | Who Are The Key Players To Execute This Game For Both Teams
Though England will be missing the service of Midfielder, Keira Walsh, who has been sidelined due to a knee injury, the Three Lionesses showed in their last group game against China that the absence of the 26-year-old Barcelona forward won’t impact negatively on the team’s performance.
The players that are expected to execute this game for England include Alessia Russo, Katie Robinson, Chloe Kelly, Layra Coombs, Rachel Daly, Lauren Hemp, and Lauren James, as well as their showstopper, Mary Earps.
The Nigerian camp has no record of injury, and neither England nor Nigeria have suspension as of the time of this preview and are expected to file out against England in a 3-5-2 formation.
Uchenna Kanu, Ajibade, Esther Okoronkwo, and Oshoala are expected to lead the attack, Abiodun to combine with Ucheibe Christy in the midfield, and Halimotu Ayinde, Ohale as well as the Nigerian Goalkeeper, Nnadozie to ensure Nigeria concede no goal from the fire powering England.
The Super Falcons have set a semi-final stage as their target for this year’s world cup, while the Three Lionesses are seeking their first-ever FIFA WWC trophy after reaching the last four in 1995 and having won the 2022 UEFA Women’s Nations Cup.
Neither England nor Nigeria have won the FIFA Women’s World Cup, both countries would fancy going beyond the round of sixteen.
As stated, England’s best result was a 3rd place bronze medal eight years ago, whilst Nigeria’s best run was a quarter-final stage reached, at the last edition in France.
How Can Both Teams Outplay Each Other
Let’s start with the Super Falcons who have conceded two goals in this tournament and have scored just three goals so far, with all the five goals coming in the game against Australia.
It is no doubt that the Nigerians Ladies would have lesser ball possession in the game against England, so, the strategy for them would be to outsmart the English Women’s national team rather than outplay them.
We are suggesting a 3-5-2 tactical formation for Randy Waldrum, though this may change if the Super Falcons are comfortably leading toward the final stage of the match.
But knowing that England play free-flowing football and are capable of scoring from any angle, it would be best for the Super Falcons to be able to cut off England’s Alessia Russo from the attack.
Ucheibe Christy, Abiodun, and Alozie must hold possession for Nigeria and spring passes to attackers who should be effective and efficient in the final third.
We would want to see Uchenna Kanu being positioned as the central striker, to be supported by Onumonu, and Oshoala.
The Super Falcons are expected to have improved on their wasteful approach against the Republic of Ireland.
The approach should be, don’t concede but bury your chances just as they did against the hosts, Australia, on match day two.
Losing the ball easily can be counter-productive as the Three Lionesses have the players that can run at you, and convert their chances with lesser errors.
The statistics aren’t in favour of Super Falcons but if they can do it against Canada and Australia, they can also do it against England.
The European champions have all the factors in their advantage, in fact, statistics have earmarked 75% chances of victory to the Three Lionesses compare to the 8% factor for the Super of Nigeria.
As we always asserted, Football is beyond statistics, the Three Lionesses must be alerted to avoid Nigeria running behind its defense line. England must be ready to dictate the pace.
This match is about who can score the most goals. However, we may not see so many goals.
But on paper, England should ordinarily have, nonetheless, match results are decided on the pitch, so we say, it looks 50-50.
What The Coaches and Players are saying
Waldrum | It is Not Different From Other Matches We’ve Already Played
Despite England’s firepower and favourite tag, Super Falcons head coach, Randy Waldrum says his side are ready to face England and any other opponents.
In his words, “They are going to be another great team. If it is England, the European champions, we have already played Canada, the Olympic gold medallists.”
“We have already played the host nation. It’s just going to be one of those matches that we’ve already been playing”.
Who will triumph after 90 minutes? You can drop your suggestion, opinions, and choice winner in the comment section.