Norway and Nigeria are two of the seven countries that have qualified for all eight Women’s World Cups to date. However, these two teams have experienced vastly different results in this competition. The Norwegians have had a lot of success in the Women’s World Cup. The Grasshoppers made it to the semifinals in four of the first five World Cups, and they won the 1995 World Cup. Norway have not had the same success recently, but they have made it to the knockout rounds in six of their seven World Cup trips.
Nigeria have qualified for the knockout rounds of the World Cup once. That was back in 1999, and the Super Falcons almost turned the competition on its head. Nigeria became the first African team to qualify for the quarterfinals, and they erased a 3-0 deficit to take Brazil to extra time before losing. Outside of 1999, the Super Falcons have really struggled at the World Cup though, posting a cumulative record of 1-3-14.
Norway vs. Nigeria
- Date and Time: June 8, 2019, 3 p.m. ET
- Location: Stade August-Delaune, Reims, France
- US Television Coverage: FOX
- Betting Line: Norway -1.5, O/U 3
Not having Ballon d’Or winner Ada Hegerberg for the World Cup is a big blow for Norway, but this is still a decent team. The Grasshoppers defeated Scotland and China earlier in 2019, and they crushed South Africa 7-2 in their final friendly before the group stage on Sunday. They have lacked the punch to take down some of the top teams at this competition though, being held scoreless by both New Zealand and Canada earlier in the year.
The Super Falcons have been the best team in Africa for three decades, and they showed that once again last month. Nigeria topped seven other teams to win the West African Women’s World Cup, nipping the Ivory Coast in penalties for the title. Their lack of games against other top tier teams could prove costly in France though. Nigeria have not played another national team taking part in the World Cup since April, when they fell 2-1 to Canada.
Norway Player to Watch
Caroline Graham Hansen is the most talented player on the Grasshoppers. She helped lead Barcelona to the Champions League Final last month, and she has done her best to mitigate the loss of Hegerberg. Hansen has already made 71 appearances for Norway despite being just 24 years old, and she has the second-most goals 25 of any player on the national team.
Nigeria Player to Watch
Hansen’s Barcelona teammate Asisat Oshoala has made a name for herself since joining the Catalan club at the end of January. She netted eight goals in eight appearances for Barcelona, and Oshoala scored the lone goal for the Blaugrana in their Champions League Final loss to Lyon. Oshoala has pocketed 11 goals for the national team, and she should add to that total in June.
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Norway vs. Nigeria Free Picks
I think Nigeria will be able to score at least once in this match. The Super Falcons have three talented forwards in Oshoala, Desire Oparanozie, and Francisca Ordega, and their pace could surprise Norway. None of the forwards that Nigeria brought to France are older than 25, so fatigue should not be a factor during the competition. I’ll take Nigeria +1.5, but I believe that Norway will win this match. Hansen and Norway’s midfield will be too much for Nigeria’s back line, and Isabell Herlovsen should score at least once for the Norwegians.
Norway vs. Nigeria Prediction: Norway 2, Nigeria 1
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