Argentina coach Jorge Sampaoli admits La Albiceleste face a tough test to overcome Nigeria in their Group D Russia 2018 World Cup clash at the Saint Petersburg Stadium in Saint Petersburg on June 26 , but the 57 -year -old has revealed what they need to do to earn the desired points from the game .
Other occupants of the group are debutants Iceland and Croatia . The Eagles open their World Cup campaign against Croatia at the Kaliningrad Stadium in Kaliningrad on June 16 before travelling to Volgograd to face Iceland on June 22 .
Nigeria handed a surprise 4 -2 defeat to two-time champions Argentina in a friendly affair in Krasnodar in Russia on November 14 , making three -time Africans champions Eagles favourites to win the Saint Petersburg encounter .
Sampaoli came under huge criticism from the Argentine media and fans over the Krasnodar defeat , which was the White and Sky Blue ’s second after beating Nigeria five times in their previous seven meetings .
And Sampaoli, who guided Chile to the 2015 Copa America glory , is wary of the potential threat posed by the Eagles to the South American giants in their Russia 2018 group . But he insists La Albiceleste could prove their superiority over Nigeria by winning the game .
The former Sevilla manager is also worried about the potential threat posed by dark horses Iceland to Argentina ’s bid to reach the next round .
“These are rivals that are coming with few obligations and a lot of enthusiasm for a unique opportunity as the World Cup is ,” Sampaoli was quoted as saying on La Albiceleste ’s official website on Sunday .
“They are going to make us fight but it will depend on us . We need to establish a way and be the Argentina we want to be .
“Iceland will make us work , as everyone else . Nigeria is unpredictable , they are very fast . We need to study them well.
Croatia has an excellent midfield line with Luka Modric , Ivan Rakitic and Ivan Perisic . They also have ( Mario ) Manzukic as a No . 9. They are very strong . ”
Meanwhile , former Argentina forward Jorge Valdano says he is worried about his country ’ s chances in the group .
The Mexico ’86 World Cup winner , who guided Real Madrid to the 1995 La Liga title , fears Argentina could be embarrassed in the group .
“It is a worrisome group ,” the former Real Madrid striker was quoted by El Universo as saying on Sunday.
“Iceland is a stone , Croatia has a good foot , especially in the centre of the field with players like Modric or Rakitic .”
“Finally, Nigeria just played a friendly match with Argentina in which Argentina clearly lost , so it does not seem like a comfortable group ,” Valdano said .