World Cup Round of 16 preview: Germany v Algeria
Head to head
Played 2: Germany 0 wins, Algeria 2 wins, no draws.
It’s a long time between meetings for these teams, last meeting in the group stage of the 1982 World Cup. Algeria stunned the Germans in the opening game, but were knocked out when Austria lost 1-0 to Germany to send them both through in suspicious circumstance. Algeria won’t have forgotten, and will aim to keep their perfect record.
Both these sides had weird final group matches. Germany’s performance against the USA was dulled by the fact both teams were through. Once Thomas Muller had put Germany ahead, his side took their foot off to conserve energy, and not let goal difference kill them off.
Algeria on the other hand had to fight back for their equaliser against Russia, but once that happened they were happy with the point and we saw a perplexing display of Russia initiating attacking football.
But that was last week, and we are into the knockout stages now. Algeria has not gone past the group stages before, but this is the best football they have played in a long time. Germany will be weary and want to assert dominance early. They are the experienced team and leaving at this stage would be a huge disappointment
The big issue
Can Joachim Low pick a front three? Algeria’s defence has been somewhat questionable, conceding in every game so far. They have been susceptible to long balls when isolated. In the match against Portugal, Thomas Muller and Mario Gotze pulled wide to receive balls and bring others into play. A similar tactic could be effective. With Lukas Podolski out injured, Ozil Muller and Gotze will surely be the favoured starters, with Andre Schurrle and Miroslav Klose available off the bench.
The game breaker
Sofiane Feghouli and Islam Slimani. Two of the stars of this World Cup so far, and they will need to both have a huge impact if Algeria are to overcome the European giants. Slimani will be a handful for the German backline. Solid but energetic, he is able to make runs behind and be useful in the air. But most of the pressure is on Feghouli’s shoulders. He is the link between attack and defence for Algeria and if he is closed down by the Bayern midfield three, Algeria could struggle to make an impact.
Prediction: Germany 2 – 1 Algeria
Algeria are not as far outsiders as some are thinking. They performed very well in an interesting group. They are a young side and will continue to improve in this style of play. They could be good for a goal, although Germany will fancy their own chances in attack.
Algeria hasn’t faced a high quality attacking outfit yet, with Belgium being lacklustre - and we won’t even talk about the disappointing Russians. If Germany can get an early goal it could turn ugly, which would be an undeserving exit.
*Pic of Germany's Philipp Lahm and Algeria's Madjid Bougherra from the #allin or nothing campaign by @adidasau.