GROUP C is the centre of attention on Tuesday night but who’ll book a last eight berth? Mark O’Haire (@MarkOHaire) examines the best bets from Senegal’s showdown with Algeria.
Senegal v Algeria | Tuesday 18.00 | Eurosport
The ‘Group of Death’ was always going to throw up a surprise or two. Going into the conclusion of Group C, Senegal take on Algeria knowing a draw is all that’s required to see them through. Highly-fancied Algeria must win to be certain of a place in the quarter-finals. We’re going to be in for a tense 90 minutes in Malabo.
Senegal have been one of the few sides to ‘go to form’ at the Nations Cup so far. Before the tournament began I was quick to dampen expectations that Alain Giresse’s side will be a joy to watch; instead the Lions of Teranga use their size and weight to their advantage, effectively bullying sides on their way to getting results.
It worked a treat against Ghana in their opener, snatching a late winner to secure maximum points. But Senegal struggled against South Africa last time out with Bafana Bafana taking an easy-on-the-eye tight passing approach.
We can expect something similar from Algeria on Tuesday night, so will the style work in their favour? The Desert Foxes have struggled to break both South Africa and Ghana down and been a bit of a let down for those backing the second favourites outright.
The Bafana were architects of their own downfall against Christian Gourcuff’s men but against Ghana, Algeria failed to even register a single shot-on-target. It’s most definitely a concern.
However, a positive for the Foxes is the fact this fixture will be played in Malabo where the pitch is significantly better than the surface at Mongomo. That should allow Algeria to resurrect their neat, fast passing style and should they follow South Africa’s blueprint, they could most definitely reap the benefits.
Striker Islam Slimani remains absent and although statisticians are quick to point out the Foxes have only W3-D5-L7 of their last 15 Nations Cup group games, the current crop are good enough to overcome those hurdles and out-think and out-manoeuvre this Senegalese side.
Built around fearsome power, height and strength, Senegal (as we saw against South Africa) can be got at by intelligent interchanging. Giresse looks to pack his midfield with destroyers and although that can work to their advantage defensively, it leaves them hideously shorn of ideas and craft to supply their outstanding array of forwards.
We should expect Algeria to dominate possession and there’ll be a big burden on Yacine Brahimi, Sofiane Feghouli, Riyad Mahrez and Saphir Taïder to find the spark that’s been missing in their first two outings. I’m not prepared to abandon this Algerian side just yet and, with the knowledge that they ‘must win’ to ensure a place in the last eight, I’m happy to give them support in the Draw No Bet market.
Algeria can be backed at 4/5 with William Hill in the Draw No Bet market meaning we’ll get our cash back should the match end in a draw. Their loss against Ghana was only their fourth in 26 games and I’m confident their invention will come to the fore as they bid for a place in the knockout stage.
Senegal v Algeria – Algeria draw no bet (4/5 William Hill)