World Cup Group Competition: Algeria

SOCCER 2010 - Africa Cup of Nations - Angola vs Algeria

England may be the heavy Group C favorites and Algeria the least-likely team to advance to the knockout round, but the Algerian’s quality midfield could cause problems for England, Slovenia, and the USA.

Note – we are indebted to Just-football.com for their formation analysis.

Roster (Clubs in parentheses)

Defenders: Habib Belaid (Boulogne, France), Nadir Belhadj (Portsmouth, England), Madjid Bougherra (Glasgow Rangers, Scotland), Rafik Halliche (Nacional Madeira, Portugal), Abdelkader Laifaoui (ES Setif), Carl Medjani (AC Ajaccio, France), Djamel Mesbah (Lecce, Italy) Anther Yahia (Bochum, Germany)

Midfielders: Djamel Abdoun (Nantes, France), Riad Boudebouz (Sochaux, France), Adlane Guedioura (Wolverhampton, England), Fouad Kadir (Valenciennes, France), Medhi Lacen (Racing Santander, Spain), Yazid Mansouri (Lorient, France), Karim Matmour (Moenchengladbach, Germany), Mourad Meghni (Lazio, Italy), Hassen Yebda (Portsmouth, England), Karim Ziani (Wolfsburg, Germany)

Forwards: Rafik Djebbour (AEK Athens, Greece), Abdelkader Ghezzal (Siena, Italy), Rafik Saifi (Istres, France)

Potential Formation

The talented midfield, and dearth of forward options, will likely lead to a 4-5-1 variant.

Players to Watch

Karim Ziani – Perhaps Algeria’s best player, Ziani will be given the keys to the offense. Fortunately for England, Slovenia, and the USA, he’s fallen out of favor at his club, Germany’s Wolfsburg, and, as a result, did not see much action in the season’s latter half.

Madjid Bougherra – The best defender on the squad is a starter for Scotland’s Rangers, home of US internationals DaMarcus Beasley and Maurice Edu. His form during World Cup qualification drew praise, so Beasley and Edu may need to give American strikers some advice on how to break down this excellent defender.

Karim Matmour – Matmour is another Algerian currently playing club soccer with an American. In this case, the striker/midfielder suits up alongside Michael Bradley for Borussia Monchengladbach. Matmour’s technical ability, combined with the quality of Ziani, could give US center backs difficulties.

Yazid Mansouri – Ziani’s offensive flair requires a holding counterpart and captain Mansouri will fulfill that role. His defensive presence in the midfield will allow Ziani and Matmour to focus on creating scoring opportunities.

Nadir Belhadj – Outstanding going forward from left back, Belhadj threw Chelsea’s backline into disarray during the 2010 FA Cup final. He does have a reputation for being a head case and will miss Algeria’s first match against Slovenia to suspension.

Weaknesses

Algeria’s midfield may be quite talented but they have very few options up front. The experienced US defenders should not have too many problems dealing with their strikers. If the US takes an early lead, Algeria also lacks the depth to bring on experienced attackers, though, admittedly, the same could be said of the USMNT.

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