History in the making
Group C's match between Algeria and Slovenia is the most important game of the World Cup. Jon Green explains...
Last Updated: 13/06/10 12:41pm
The great thing about the World Cup is you can never be completely certain about what is going to happen. Which is exactly why Algeria v Slovenia is the most important game of the World Cup...
For someone supporting the Algerians, at least.
If they stand any chance of making history and proceeding to the knock-out stages for the first time, three points in this match are vital. Then a slip-up from either of the bigger two teams and who knows what could happen?
Algeria begin the tournament with two suspensions: goalkeeper Faouzi Chaouchi, who was unlikely to be number one anyway, and Nadir Belhadj. The latter will be a big loss as his time in the Premier League with Portsmouth has seen him plying his trade against some of the best in the world - and his probable replacement Djamel Mesbah has only received one cap.
The biggest surprise though is the decision to drop national captain Yazid Mansouri from the side due to a lack of form.
Slovenia were handed positive news when star striker Milivoje Novakovic (try saying that after a few light beverages!) overcame an abdominal injury to score twice in a friendly against New Zealand and his likely partner up front, Zlatan Ljubijankic, should be recovered from an ankle injury.
Hopefully these two don't get into the action too much, although it could be quite amusing listening to the commentators struggle with their names!
Slovenia's strong point is their defence, conceding just six goals in qualification and could prove difficult for Algeria to break them down.
The Desert Foxes' main striking threat comes in the form of veteran Rafik Saifi, although a midfield full of pace and the attacking attitude of the full-backs will aid in breaking down the Slovenians.
The inclusion of only three strikers in the Algerian squad has suggested that they will be predominantly relying on the creative force of Wolfsburg's Karim Ziani. The 27-year old, who signed for the German outfit last year, was named as the best player in his position during the 2004 African Nations Cup and has been an inspiration in midfield ever since.
With only three matches separating them from the history books, Algeria will not be put off by the big occasion.
The team have already proved themselves under pressure during their hostile play-off game against Egypt in qualification and will be hoping to bring this positive attitude into the tournament.
Although major changes have been made to the squad, the inexperience could be considered a positive thing. The team is being remodelled and will be hoping to prove to themselves, and the fans, that they are ready to challenge on a larger stage.
Likely to be a very tight game, one goal could be the difference between keeping the hopes of emerging from Group C alive - let's hope that goal comes courtesy of Les Fennecs!
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