With two months to the start of the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia,
Completesportsnigeria.com’s ADEBOYE AMOSU here highlights the performances of Nigeria’s group opponents’ key men for their respective clubs ahead of the mundial…
LIONEL MESSI (Argentina and Barcelona)
The undisputed leader of Argentina Lionel Messi will head to the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia in good form despite his Spanish club Barcelona’s shocking exit from the UEFA Champions League.
The 30-year-old has so far featured in 49 games for Barcelona this season and has bagged 39 goals with 16 assists.
The Super Eagles defence have to be extra sharp to keep the tricky Messi, who has always been on the winning side against Nigeria, in check.
GONZALO HIGUAIN (Argentina and Juventus)
Another fearsome forward in the Argentina team, Gonzalo Higuain has enjoyed a fine season with Italian club Juventus. Argentina coach Jorge Sampaoli will look up to the reliable forward alongside the duo of Lionel Messi and Sergio Aguero to deliver the goods for his side in Russia.
So far, the former Real Madrid and Napoli striker has netted 22 goals with eight assists from 43 games in all competitions this season.
MARIO MANDZUKIC (Croatia and Juventus)
A versatile forward who can also play on the wings, the 31-year-old is one of the stars of the Croatia national team.
Mandzukic is mostly used as a winger by his Italian club Juventus and has featured in 37 games in all competitions for the Biaconneri this season, scoring nine goals and has bagged three assists.
He showed his predatory instincts by scoring two goals for Juventus in their 3-1 Champions League win against Real Madrid.
IVAN PERISIC (Croatia and Inter Milan)
A world-class winger who was courted in the summer by English Premier League giants Manchester United. Ivan Perisic has made 34 apperances for Inter Milan in all competitions this season, bagging 10 goals with nine assists.
Super Eagles defenders will have to be at their best to stop this skilful and pacy winger at the mundial.
LUKA MODRIC (Croatia and Real Madrid)
The elegant midfielder is one of the best in his position in the world. Luka Modric, who at times has been hampered by injuries this season, has featured 36 times for European champions Real Madrid and has hit the back of the net twice with six assists to his name.