With next week’s game against Costa Rica taking place at Leeds United’s Elland Road, Saturday evening’s friendly versus Nigeria is the last chance for fans to wave off England at Wembley, the national stadium, ahead of the 2018 World Cup in Russia, which begins on 14th June.
The Three Lions have been drawn in Group G and are, along with Belgium, expected to advance to the last-16 – both Tunisia and Panama should be straightforward fixtures. Results under Gareth Southgate have been promising, with the 47-year-old losing just twice in 16 games.
However, a worrying pattern has started to develop in attack with his squad scoring just four times in their last six games. They have conceded just once, though, in that time and are unbeaten since losing to France last June. It will be intriguing to see if Southgate’s squad can get firing in Russia, particularly as he has named five attacking players – Raheem Sterling, Harry Kane, Danny Welbeck, Jamie Vardy and Marcus Rashford – in his 23-man travelling party.
Nigeria, meanwhile, are very much underdogs in Group D – they will face Argentina, Iceland and Croatia. The South Americans are clearly the favourites to advance in first place having got to the final in 2014, but picking a runner-up is not easy.
The two European countries in the group have both shown that they are capable of beating elite countries, but Nigeria have a talented and young squad with players that feature for clubs in Europe’s top leagues.
Their preparation for Russia has been mixed, with a win against Poland sandwiched between defeats to Morocco and Serbia. They did, however, dominate their qualification group, finishing ahead of Zambia, Cameroon and Algeria.
There are 61 markets from Tipbet for Saturday’s friendly. England’s home advantage and recent unbeaten run makes them much more likely to get a morale-boosting victory and they are 1.45 to win outright or 2.20 with a one-goal handicap. Nigeria are at 7.75, while there are generous odds when answering ‘no’ to both teams scoring (1.55).