Football has a funny way of doing things. This is Algeria’s first appearance in the knockout stages of the World Cup – the last time they got so close, having beaten West Germany 2-1 in 1982, but then were cheated in the cruellest fashion, Germans played out a convenient 1-0 win over Austria (the “Disgrace of Gijon, a disgusting watch on YouTube) which took both neighbours through.
Here and now in Brazil, Algeria get a chance to wright those wrongs and make amends, but heartbreak all over again looks likely and Germany can push them aside on their way to the quarter finals. I’ve had my fair say on expectations before the tournament and even with doubts over their defence, the Germans go into yet another tournament amongst the favourites for outright success, but there’s an argument to say they haven’t met the high expectations they hold of themselves
Portugal collapsed against them, rendering a game that was going the way of Jogi Low’s men useless as a contest as they went onto win 4-0, and then they were lucky to scrape from a ding-dong encounter with Ghana with a point after being dominated for 20 minutes when the Ghanaians turned around an early Gotze goal. Against the USA they were in better form, although that game was played at a static pace; Fair to say we’ve not seen the best of the Germans so far.
Algeria bored the place out in South Africa – their 0-0 draw with England will put even the most irritable of toddlers to sleep – but four years on they are a different side and have bought real energy to the African challenge in Brazil. Against Belgium an early penalty saw them setting the pace, and they gave the much more fancied Europeans a run for their money although in the end could no relent from late pressure to succumb 2-1, and to make this stage against Russia they saw out a late onslaught in dogged style having gone behind, chasing the same without a huge amount of success. Against South Korea, however, they went from the front foot – something that coach Vahid Halilhodzic may well wish he’d done earlier against Belgium – and they tore into the Koreans, going 3-0 up in 45 minutes (it could and maybe should have been more) before picking them off at the break as they launched a fightback.
But today they face a German side that is gears above them on all evidence and is likely to start pushing much harder today. The Germans were static against the USA when the job was done and dodgy at he back against Ghana, which is where Algeria can hope to target them, but their defence was cut through by South Korea on the rebound and this attacking unit, with Thomas Muller at it’s helm but Ozil and Gotze having looked dangerous all tournament, is a different proposition and they should make their class tell in no uncertain terms. Back them to put more than a goal between them and the Africans.
2.5 pts Germany -1 (20/21 Bet365)