Group C Opponents Algeria

Their most memorable moment came in 1990 when they defeated Nigeria in the African Nations Cup Final to win their only major honour at international level to date. Next year’s World Cup will be only their third since the formation of their national side in 1957. So it is fair to say they are the unknown quantity from the group.

Having said that they came through 2 qualification stages to make the final’s including ill tempered encounters against Egypt which saw them win and lose one each. This shows them to have big game pedigree as Egypt are don’t you forget, champions of Africa. This could pose England a few problems as England are famous for not performing in big matches so from Algeria’s point of view, this is something which they can exploit for sure.

Algeria’s Key Players

Goalkeeper

Their first choice goalkeeper is a man called Lounès Gaouaoui who has been capped 48 times for them in an 8 year spell. He currently plies his trade for Algerian outfit ASO Chlef. He is well renound for impressive leaping abilities so if you put it like that, Peter Crouch does have a use after-all.

Defence

Their left-back is well known to some, it is Portsmouth player Nadir Belhadj. He is, I would say one of the most attacking left-backs in the country at this moment. However he can also operate as a winger as he did for a period under Tony Adams’s failed stewardship. Being a Premier League player he is an integral part of their side and could well put the English defence under a certain degree of pressure. At this moment in time he can’t even get into the Portsmouth side who are bottom of the league. What does this say about him if he can’t get into a relegation stricken side?

One half of their centre-back pairing is Rangers centre-back Madjid Bougherra. He is a bit of a controversial character with the Glasgow side as he has been late back from international duty 3 times which have caused a few problematic incidents including a training ground bust-up with Kenny Miller and he’s also gone AWOL. Turning our attention back to the football side of matters, he is a vital part of the Rangers side and was at the heart of their defence last season as they won the domestic league and cup double. Rangers needed him especially after the sale of Carlos Cuellar to the aspirational Aston Villa. Majid had to work his way through the leagues. He started in England with Crewe on loan in 2006; he then spent a season at Sheffield Wednesday before making another switch, this time to South London team Charlton Athletic. Then in 2008 he made his switch to Glasgow and has been a stalwart for them and a disruptive influence ever since. He is arguably their best option in defence and the England attack will have to be on top of their game to get past him.

Midfield

The Algerian’s two key players in midfield will undoubtedly be their skipper and most capped player for them with only 58 caps in Yazid Mansouri and Karim Ziani who plays for German Champions Wolfsburg. Mansouri is an industrious defensive centre midfielder who plays for French Ligue 1 side FC Lorient. Players like this you come across all of the time with above average teams and most of them end up carrying their side on their jaded shoulders but always with teams like this there is always a creative playmaker. This man as I earlier mentioned is VfL Wolfsburg’s centre midfielder Karim Ziani. The 27 year-old is without a doubt in or vastly approaching the peak of his career. Having been capped 46 times before for the Algerians there is no question in his experience as an international player. At the top level however is arguable, having said that he plays in the champion’s league which has included fixtures against former champions Manchester United and CSKA Moscow so he as an individual is certainly no pushover.

Attack

Finally onto their attack and their talisman for this world-cup will be Rafik Saïfi. The 34 year old is vastly experienced but one thing to note about the striker is that all of his 18 goals for Algeria have been against African sides like Liberia, Cape Verde and Gambia. I.E. sub standard opposition. So he is arguably just better than Peter Crouch, Dirk Kuyt or Julio Baptista, who couldn’t score against similar opposition like Hull City. Hypothetically of course. This therefore proves the over-priced and over-pampered English defence shall have no issues with this journeyman heading their attack.

Overall Consensus

As referred to earlier Algeria is the unknown quantity not just of this group, but the world cup and world football in general. With their manager Rabah Saadane I’m sure in his own little world believes that they can achieve something as he approaches his 3rd year in his 5th reign as manager. However we are in the real world and in the real world we know that Algeria will do nothing and achieve nothing as always in this competition. In my view they will finish 4th in the group.

Next up tomorrow, Slovenia.

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