This weekend’s World Cup warm-up against Nigeria will provide Gareth Southgate’s men with a chance to stake a claim for a spot in the starting eleven for their group G opener against Tunisia, as the Three Lions get set to play their last game at Wembley before heading to Russia.
Nigeria’s players will also have it all to prove to manager Gernot Rohr, and the Super Eagles will relish the opportunity to silence the home crowd going into this one.
Here are the best football bets ahead of the match at Wembley.
Nigeria in ‘group of death’ preparation
Nigeria’s World Cup preparation has been strong having reached the African Nations Championship in February. Despite their 4-0 defeat in the final to Morocco, the bigger picture shows the Super Eagles were the first African team to qualify for the World Cup finals and they could cause problems in this one.
They are in the World Cup ‘group of death’ where they will face hosts Russia, Argentina and tournament novices Iceland. To prepare, they must build momentum starting with England.
The sides have only met twice before – a David Platt goal at the old Wembley was enough to give England the win in an international friendly in 1994. They also met in the 2002 World Cup group stages where a goalless draw helped England qualify and send Nigeria home.
Nigeria have a blend of youth and maturity throughout their squad. With Victor Moses, John Obi Mikel and Kelechi Iheanacho, they also have Premier League experience which may help them get a result.
Young England can impress on home soil
It’s been reported that Gareth Southgate has already decided on his starting team for the opener against Tunisia, but this game will give the fringe players a chance to shine in front of the Wembley crowd.
England have performed well in recent friendlies. They saw off the Netherlands at the Amsterdam Arena thanks to a single goal from Jesse Lingard, and the side were unlucky to concede a late equaliser to Italy at Wembley a few days later in a 1-1 draw.
Nigeria will provide a stern test for England – they don’t often concede too many, and they will see this as a chance to stifle the Three Lions attack and look to break away and hit them on the counter with pace at any opportunity.
Three Lions to sneak it
Despite England’s strength in attack, their recent games haven’t provided many goals. The last four fixtures have seen England win 1-0 three times. While Gareth Southgate would take boring 1-0 victories any day of the week, supporters will be keen to see something more uplifting.
Nigeria will be happy to sit in and frustrate the likes of Harry Kane, Raheem Sterling and Dele Alli. However, it will only take one piece of brilliant play, and I think we’ll see that at some point.
I can see England sneaking this one, but a better bet would be to go with under 2.5 goals at 8/11.