Since the last World Cup, Algeria have undergone some drastic changes. A new manager in Bosnian’ Vahid Halihodzic has been brought in, and he immediately changed everything. The side, dubbed “Masters of timewasting” did not even score a goal 4 years ago, and never even looked like being interested in attacking. Under new management, they have dropped the likes of Karim Ziani, and replaced them with youth. Sofiane Feghouli, Yacine Brahimi and Faiz Ghoulam have come in, just to name a few. They are now a high-pressing attacking side with more gusto than they used to have, and I quite like the look of their side. The effect is clear – it took the old regime 9 years to rack up 4 away wins. It took Halihodzic less than a year! Here is their squad:
Goalkeepers: Rais Mbolhi, Cedric Si Mohamed, Mohamed Lamine Zemmamouche
Defenders: Essaid Belkalem, Madjid Bougherra, Liassine Cadamuro , Faouzi Ghoualm, Rafik Halliche , Aissa Mandi, Carl Medjani, Djamel Mesbah, Mehdi Mostefa
Midfielders: Nabil Bentaleb, Yasine Brahimi, Medhi Lacen, Saphir Taider, Hassan Yebda
Forwards: Abdelmoumene Djabou, Sofiane Feghouli, Nabil Ghilas, Riyad Mahrez, Islam Slimani, Hilal Soudani
In the 2nd round of qualifying they secured top spot with 5 wins from 6. In the 3rd round, where the 8 winners contest playoffs for 4 spaces, they drew 3-3 with Burkina Faso over 2 legs, winning on the away goal ruling.
Ones to Watch:
Sofiane Fegholi – the Valenica playmaker is in top form, playing very well in the closing stages of the season. A fast winger – he is one who can make things happen for the team in Brazil.
Faouzi Ghoulam – the Napoli Left back has proven to be a top acquisition – and for his country is equally good, given the freedom to pound up and down the left wing. Another to watch.
Islam Slimani – Algeria’s main striker, and playing well for Sporting Lisbon – if they are to get anywhere or do well, he will need to fire. A good forward – I am looking forward to seeing him in action.
(4-2-3-1): Mbolhi, Cadamuro, Medjani, Bougherra, Ghoulam, Taider, Yebda, Brahimi, Ghilas, Feghouli, Slimani.
A good team – with plenty of experience in defence. Those of us in Europe will know 3 of the back 4 well, as well as the likes of Saphir Taider, Hassan Yebda and Nabil Ghilas. This team, before losing to Armenia, won 12 in a row – so are used to winning. Tottenham’s rising starlet Nabil Bentaleb is also in the squad – and may make a few appearances.
Group Winner – 20/1
To Qualify – 7/2
Over 1.5 Points – 8/11
Over 2.5 Goals – Evens
Unless there is a miracle, Algeria should go out in the group stages. Belgium, Russia and South Korea should all be too strong for Halihodzic’s side, but we see them scoring a few goals. All three teams they face are not impregnable, Over 2.5 Goals is Evens, but our Top Tip for Algeria is Over 1.5 Points @ 8/11