Can Nigeria deal with heightened expectations against France?

At the end of this game, Stephen Keshi was asked what he thought about the probability of Nigeria facing Karim Benzema. He replied quick as a flash: “And France will be facing Musa, Emenike … ”

There are reasons to be confident after a performance in which they caused problems for Argentina and showed that, certainly on the break, they will do so for other teams, too. But Keshi, as he had done after the 0-0 draw with Iran, was also quick to impose a little realism. His answer to a follow-up question, this time suggesting that if it wasn’t to be France it would be easy, seemed more significant.

Nigeria got through the group and played their part in making this such an enjoyable game; although some of their players admitted the conditions were difficult, they have handled them better than some teams and in Ahmed Musa they have a player who excites. But might he excite them too much? Will Nigeria be able to live with the expectations?

“All the teams are good. It doesn’t matter [who you face],” Keshi noted. “You have to appreciate that. It is only Nigeria that don’t appreciate that. Nigerians always think that every team we face we have to kill them 5-0, 10-0. It doesn’t work that way.” Sid Lowe

Match report: Nigeria 2-3 Argentina

Bosnia still dwelling on injustice against Nigeria

There is only one talking point for Bosnians at the moment, how far the team might have gone had Edin Dzeko’s goal against Nigeria not been wrongly disallowed. Actually, there might be two, because Safet Susic and his players have got it into their heads that Peter Odemwingie’s winner in that match should not have stood either.

They are possibly wrong about that – Emir Spahic should probably have been stronger in the challenge – but what is indisputable is that if the game had finished 1-1 this result would have taken Bosnia through to a last-16 game against France. They would hardly have been favourites to win that, although it is the adventure that counts.

Bosnia now return home from their first World Cup with a sense of injustice, a feeling that the football gods were against them. It is a shame but as long as linesmen have to adjudicate on narrow offside decisions – not that Dzeko’s was necessarily the tightest call you will ever see – they are more or less bound to make the occasional mistake. Paul Wilson

Match report: Bosnia-Herzegovina 3-1 Iran

Switzerland slack in defence

Nobody can dispute that Switzerland are pleasing on the eye when going forward. Xherdan Shaqiri was rampant against Honduras, ably assisted by the tricky Josip Drmic, and should cause a rickety Argentina back four some consternation, if they are given an opportunity, when they meet in São Paulo on Tuesday.

The same, however, cannot be said for their defence. Against Honduras, Johan Djourou had a horror show. Three times in the opening 15 minutes of the second half he was caught out of position and was lucky not to concede a penalty for a clumsy challenge on Jerry Palacios. Pay little attention to the clean sheet because any half-decent side would have punished such slack marking.

Their defending in Brazil has been in stark contrast to their performances in qualification, where they kept clean sheets in seven of 10 games. More of the same against La Albiceleste and Lionel Messi will have a field day.

Alan Smith

Match report: Honduras 0-3 Switzerland

Honduras take physical approach

Farewell, then, Honduras. They might not have reached Battle of Santiago proportions – despite their best efforts – but depart Brazil with an impressive record – of the wrong sort – nonetheless, averaging a foul every five and a half minutes. The inevitable criticisms levelled at their approach were rebuffed by the coach, Luis Fernando Suárez, who said their style is intense rather than physical.

Try telling that to the players who were on the end of their challenges. In a World Cup dominated by speed so far, the central Americans’ old-school approach has been an antidote. But have they not taken that approach because of inferior technical ability? They never looked comfortable in possession, often choosing to lump it forward with a simple option available, making their preference for a battle of attrition understandable. The problem is they couldn’t tackle all that well, either. Alan Smith

Match report: Honduras 0-3 Switzerland

Is resting players a good move?

The great case study is Euro 2008. At that tournament, in each of the four groups, there was a team that won their first two games and knew they were through before playing the final match. Of the four, three went out in the quarter-final and the other, Spain, produced their worst performance in the tournament, drawing 0-0 against Italy and winning only on penalties.

France made six changes from the side that had started the 5-2 win over Switzerland and were far less impressive, seeming to miss Yohan Cabaye in particular. The question then is whether they can regain their rhythm before the game against Nigeria, who are adept at disrupting an opponent’s flow.

“When you substitute players,” said the France coach, Didier Deschamps, “that changes the rhythm but then I can always substitute players back. If I bring along players and don’t use them that’s a problem as well. If I bring 23 players it’s because I trust them. Sometimes you risk losing some fluidity. We were less dangerous today in the first half because Ecuador defended well and when they had one man down we had some open spaces and were able to be more effective.” Jonathan Wilson

Match report: Ecuador 0-0 France