After a comprehensive victory and excellent performance against South Korea (4-2) Algeria are expected to name a similar or identical line-up.
Coach Halilhodzic made five changes for the South Korea game and they largely paid off. Mandi replaced Mostefa at right-back and Mesbah replaced Ghoulam at left-back, and the incoming full-backs both performed well enough to keep their places. Bougherra and Halliche have started in both Algeria’s games so far. They are likely to continue as the centre-back partnership.
In midfield the Medjani-Bentaleb partnership worked well against South Korea, with Medjani providing an assist for the opening goal. The highlight of the team was the excellent performance of the mobile, attacking midfield trio. The inclusion of Brahimi (who scored) in a central attacking role added great fluidity to the team. His understanding with Feghouli was a major asset, while Djabou also scored. As Algeria will play to win this game, all three should keep their places rather than the manager reverting to a 4-3-3.
In attack Slimani should also keep his place. He scored Algeria’s opening goal in their win over South Korea and was a lot more effective than Soudani, who had started in Algeria’s 2-1 defeat at the hands of Belgium.
Bench (from): Si Mohamed GK, Zemmamouche GK, Mostefa RB/DM, Cadamuro CB, Belkalem CB, Ghoulam LB, Lacen CM, Yebda CM, Taider CM, Mahrez RW, Ghilas ST, Soudani ST
Tactical Keys to the Game:
No reported injury problems for Russia following their defeat to Belgium. Russia were having a rest day on Monday before returning to training on Tuesday so at this stage the team selection is difficult to be too certain of.
For the Belgium game coach Capello brought in Kozlov for Eshchenko at right back and also more surprisingly Kanunnikov on the left attacking midfield position for Zhirkov. Kozlov defended well in the first half and did provide a good outlet down the right but his final ball was lacking, in the second half as Hazard became more prevalent he was subbed with Eshchenko replacing him. It is a close call as to who will start this game, possibly Eshchenko is a slight favourite. Kanunnikov showed some good play on the left with his forward runs though these weren’t utilised enough. He may have done enough to keep his place.
Again for Russia the selection issues appear to be in attacking midfield and upfront. Dzagoev was left on the bench again as Capello opted for Shatov who improved from the opening game though still lacked the inventiveness that Dzagoev might bring. Shatov is expected to keep his place.
Kokorin was given the strikers role again with Kerzhakov only seeing
the final moments of the game. Kokorin was more threatening than in
the Korea game and missed a good chance to score. It seems that Kokorin is likely to start again.
Bench (from): Lodygin GK, Ryzhikov GK, Kozlov RB, Granat CB/LB, Semenov CB/RB, Schennikov LB, Denisov CM/DM, Mogilevets CM, Dzagoev AM, Ionov RW/LW, Zhirkov LM, Kerzhakov ST
Tactical Keys to the Game:
Football Form Labs Betting Preview: Algeria (47) v Russia (21), Thursday 26th June 21:00 BST
A win for Russia is likely to be enough to take them through but anything else should see Algeria cause a shock and make it to the second round.
Algeria were excellent against South Korea and with what we’ve seen so far from Russia they will be confident of progressing here. They’ve won 11 of their last 13 games and have seen a significant improvement in their ranking over the past couple of years as several excellent young players have come into the side. Few of those matches were against good quality opposition but they have won three of their last four matches against European sides.
The Desert Foxes have scored in each of their last nine competitive matches and six have had at least three goals, with five having four or more strikes – this is not the same side that drew 0-0 with England four years ago.
Russia have shown very little ambition so far but they still have a good chance to go through so they may not be too disappointed. They’ve scored just 11 goals in their last nine games but have also conceded only six in that time. Since 2010 they’ve played 18 matches against teams ranked 21-60 and have won half with 13/18 having fewer than three goals.
While Russia tend to be a cagey side under Fabio Capello this could be an exception as they must surely attack and look for the win. Since 1990 there have been 14 final group games at World Cups, Euros, Copa Americas and African Cup of Nations where one team has been on three points and the other on one point. Both sides have won five each of these games but 10/14 have had at least three goals, including 6/7 when the side on three points had won their previous game.