England return to action against Algeria after a disappointing draw against the USA. With morale damaged and the manager’s tactics being questioned, England will no doubt want to secure a comfortable win against Algeria to relieve some of the pressure and aid their journey to the knockout stages of the competition.
Algeria, meanwhile, fresh from a 1-0 defeat to Slovenia, will be hoping to register their first points at the 2010 World Cup, the second in their history, and cling on to a slim chance of qualification to the next round. Internal confrontations have plagued the Algerians following manager Rabah Saadane’s decision to drop captain Yazid Mansouri to the bench ahead of the defeat against Slovenia.
The Africans' route to qualifying concluded in the Sudan with a play-off victory against bitter rivals Egypt. The game was marred by violence as both teams' buses were attacked on the way to the stadium with players sustaining injuries.
Against Slovenia, the Algerians created very few clear-cut opportunities. The Portsmouth left-back Nadir Belhadj threatened from dead ball situations and it took a smart save from Slovenia goal-keeper Samir Handanovic to keep Belhadj’s swerving free-kick at bay.
The 4-5-1 formation employed by Saadane, clearly emphasises the need to shackle opponents' creative play and the England midfield will have to work hard to find space against the barrier of Algerian midfielders.
England will have to deal with the running of Rafik Djebbour. The striker showed willingness in the opening game and his pace and direct approach caused problems to the Slovenian back-line. With the lack of pace in the heart of England’s defence a concern, the Algerians may look to capitalise by attempting to get Djebbour in behind.
|England 1-1 USA
||Algeria 0-1 Slovenia
|Platinum Stars 0-3 England||Algeria 1-0 UAE|
|Japan 1-2 England||Republic of Ireland 3-0 Algeria|
|England 3-1 Mexico||Serbia 3-0 Algeria
|Algeria 1-0 Nigeria
Tottenham centre-back Ledley King joins the list of casualties for England as a groin problem forces him to miss the Algeria game and with no set deadline for his return, many England fans fear his World Cup could be over.
On a more positive note central midfielder Gareth Barry returns from the injury that many thought would rule him out of the competition. The Manchester City midfielder looks set to slide straight back into the starting line-up meaning someone will miss out when it comes to a first team place.
Rob Green’s untimely blunder against the USA has reignited the debate over who should keep goal for the national team. The promising Joe Hart and the experienced David James join the previously unflappable Green in contention for the number one jersey. The other notable question mark stands over who partners Wayne Rooney up-front as Fabio Capello has admitted to being unsure whether the efficient Emile Heskey or the speedy Jermain Defoe will partner the England dangerman.
Probable Starting XI: Green; Johnson, Carragher, Terry, A Cole; Lennon, Lampard, Barry, Gerrard; Rooney, Heskey.
In other Group C fumbling ‘keeper news: Algeria’s Faouzi Chaouchi is a doubt for the match as he missed a training session on Wednesday due to a suspected sprained ankle. Should Chaouchi miss the match, Rais M Bolhi will replace the ES Setif ‘keeper.
Neglected captain Mansouri looks set to continue his spell on the Algeria bench as his negative reaction to being dropped (packing his bags and getting ready to leave) seems to have perturbed the manager slightly.
Probable Starting XI: Chaouchi; Bougherra, Belhadj, Yahia, Halliche; Lacen, Ziani, Yebda, Foued Kadir, Djebbour, Matmour.
Players To Watch
Gareth Barry’s return to the England squad may alter the course of the tournament and spur England on to progress through the group stages. The midfielder is key to the England side and gives Gerrard and Lampard licence to roam, increasing the attacking threat of England. He is certainly a player who is not noticed until he is absent and due to his lengthy absence, he has certainly been missed.
Rafik Djebbour is a powerful striker capable of fulfilling the role that Emile Heskey fulfils for England. His pace, aerial ability and direct threat may cause problems for the sluggish England back four. The striker is key to Algeria’s 4-5-1 formation and his willingness to lead the line allows the Algeria midfield to sit deep and play long balls to the forward. He is capable of holding the ball up and allowing Algeria’s full-backs to advance past the wingers. England beware!
With Algeria succumbing to defeat against fellow group C minnows the emphasis has to be on Fabio Capello’s men to get a result. However, the 4-5-1 formation employed by the Algerians is very compact and efficient in limiting the amount of scoring chances the opposition can create. I don’t expect a cricket score but I am confident that England can overcome the North African team. I’m going for a resolute England win.
England 2-0 Algeria
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