The FourFourTwo Preview: Algeria vs Russia
Almost certainly One In, One Out.
Algeria became the first African team to score four times in a single World Cup game in the stirring 4-2 defeat of South Korea, their first finals win since 1982, and in doing so put themselves on the brink of the last 16.
A win here will guarantee them the extended stay they deserve. A draw should be enough, given South Korea face Belgium in the other Group H game, and while the Koreans can still mathematically steal second spot, this is not 2002 so they have no host favours to fall back on.
The game will bring back magical memories for Don Fabio Capello, who faced the Algerians as the overpaid coach of England in the 2010 World Cup, a painful 0-0 draw as the Three Lions spluttered through the group stages.
The good news for Algeria is that Capello appears to have fashioned a Russia side in the same style as his England of 2010: dishevelled, desperate and there for the taking. Russia have talked more about their role as hosts in 2018 than making any progress here. Now we've seen them in action twice, we can fully understand why.
What the local media say
GulfNews.com suggested host city Porto Alegre should be changed to Porto Algeria after the Fennec Foxes’ frisky 4-2 victory over South Korea, lauding coach Vahid Halilhodzic for masterminding an impressive and deserved victory.
Football Russia offered a damning assessment of Capello's leadership, citing a "complete lack of desire 'to drink champagne', which, as you know, you need to take risks." This cagey approach was, it added, the "typical style of Fabio Capello".
Key battle: Slimani vs Ignashevich/Berezutski
The Algerian player of the year for 2013 scored and assisted in the win over South Korea and could have had a hatful if he'd worn his boots on the right feet. From his 5 shots on goal (or at least vaguely in the direction of goal), 1 went in while the others went wide. If he can recalibrate his sights and link cleverly with Sofiane Feghouli again, Slimani should give creaking Russian centre-backs Ignashevich and Berezutski a torrid time.
Facts and figures
- Russia have won their 2 games against African sides at the World Cup – 6-1 v Cameroon in 1994 and 2-0 v Tunisia in 2002.
- Algeria have only won 1 of their 7 World Cup games against European opposition, drawing 2 and losing 4.
- The last 8 World Cup goals conceded by Algeria have come after half-time. 8 of the last 9 World Cup goals shipped by Russia have arrived after half time.
More FFT Stats Zone facts
Their tails up, Algeria should have enough to prevail: 2-1.