Estadio Beira-Rio, Porto Alegre
June 30, 2014; 21:00 BST
Algeria look to avenge the wrongs of 1982 when they take on heavyweights Germany in Monday’s second knockout clash.
When Germany and Algeria line up, it will be a historic clash between heavyweights and newcomers. The Algerians have qualified for the knockout stages for the first time in their history, while the Germans are on a quest to reach their fourth World Cup victory—their first since 1990. But what will be on everyone’s minds—and the commentators’ lips—is 1982.
Thirty-two years ago, when les Fennecs made their first World Cup appearance, they were drawn in a group with Austria, Chile, and the reigning champions, West Germany. Before the first game, Algeria against West Germany, the champions refused to take Algeria seriously at all. The West German trainer admitted that he had not watched any footage of the Algerian team in preparation, while one player said that they would “dedicate our seventh goal to our wives and the eighth to our dogs.” There was even talk of playing with cigars in their mouths.
Germany went on to be stunned, 2-1, outplayed and befuddled by a side that FIFA had even refused to recognize during the war with France. However, they then lost to Austria in the next game, and then on the final match day of the group—the unthinkable happened. Algeria had to beat Chile to become the first African side to progress, while Germany had to defeat Austria by a one or two goal margin to ensure the two European sides would make it. The West Germans and the Austrians played a day later, and, having seen the Algerian result, stopped trying after Germany went up, 1-0, in the 10th minute. For the rest of the game, there were no shots, and only a smattering of tackles, crosses, or runs towards goal.
The Europeans were unapologetic after the result. The head of the Austrian delegation, Hans Tschak, even made this extraordinary statement: “Naturally today’s game was played tactically. But if 10,000 ‘sons of the desert’ here in the stadium want to trigger a scandal because of this it just goes to show that they have too few schools. Some sheikh comes out of an oasis, is allowed to get a sniff of World Cup air after 300 years and thinks he’s entitled to open his gob.”
Teams News and Tactics
Jogi Löw, and his players, will certainly have reviewed the game videos and there will be no talk of cigars or canine dedications. The German trainer has no injury worries at the moment but he will have to make tough decisions about who to play. He has favored a 4-3-3 so far this tournament, with Golden Boot holder Thomas Müller as the false nine. The question is who to play next to and behind Müller. Mario Götze started on the left wing for Germany’s first two games, but was replaced by Lukas Podolski against the USA. This was in conjunction with Schweinsteiger coming in for Sami Khedira in midfield. Podolski did not impress, but Schweinsteiger had an imperious game, denying the Americans the ball and putting in many classy crosses. However, Khedira and Podolski are both more direct players than their two Bayern counterparts, and Löw may be hesitant to play them both and opt for a more varied approach, with either Schweinsteiger and Podolski or Götze and Khedira.
This could also be a good chance to give Miroslav Klose his first start this World Cup. Germany looked much more dangerous after Klose’s second-half introduction against the USA, and the Algerian defense may not be able to deal with his strength in the air.
Expected starting line-up (4-3-3): Neuer (GK)—Boateng, Hummels, Mertesacker, Höwedes—Kroos, Lahm, Schweinsteiger—Özil, Müller, Götze
In the past four years, Algeria have transformed from the dull 2010 side that did not manage to score a goal—let alone win a game—into a dynamic, creative team that will pose plenty of problems for Germany. Sofiane Feghouli and Islam Slimani have impressed, with the former winning and scoring the penalty against Belgium to give Algeria their first World Cup goal in decades. With no injuries going into this game, manager Vahid Halilhodzic will probably stick to the 4-2-3-1 system over the 4-1-4-1 they played against Belgium, which gives the team more width to expose Germany’s vulnerable full-backs.
Germany have traditionally struggled against African sides, and Algeria will take advantage of this weakness. In order to stop the German midfield, they should follow Ghana’s example and press when Germany cross the halfway line, forcing the Germans to lose the ball and allowing them to counterattack. Algeria have a dangerous attacking quartet in Sofiane Feghouli, Islam Slimani, Yacine Brahimi, and Abdelmoumene Djabou, and these four will be raring to attack and create—so long as they can get the ball away from the tiki-taka Germans.
Expected line-up (4-2-3-1): M’Bohli (GK)—Mesbah, Halliche, Belkalem, Mandl—Bentaleb, Medjani—Djabou, Brahimi, Feghouli, Slimani
1. Though Algeria did not manage to score through all of World Cup 2010, they are currently averaging one goal for every 4.3 shot attempts, which is more than twice as fast as the average team, at 9.1 shot attempts.
2. The last time these two teams met, in 1982, Algeria beat West Germany 2-1.
3. Algeria are the second lowest ranking team still in the tournament, at 22 (only Costa Rica are behind them, in 29th). Germany are second.
4. Germany have completed more than twice as many passes as Algeria so far in the tournament, at 1792 to 859.
Players to Watch Out For
Islam Slimani (Algeria)
Striker Islam Slimani, who plays in Portugal at the club level, made his international debut for Algeria in 2011 and has become the creative heartbeat of the team. He has scored two goals and provided one assist so far in the tournament, including a brilliant dash towards goal between two Korean defenders to score the first of four for Algeria. Quick and strong, he is sure to pose a problem for the German defense.
Germany 3-1 Algeria
Algeria will give a spirited performance, but Germany’s technical superiority and creative versatility will be too much for them. A goal from a counterattack seems likely for les Fennecs, but Germany will simply have too much firepower for them to progress.