Senegal vs Algeria Preview

Group B favourites Senegal and Algeria will lock horns in the final group match of the campaign.
AFCON 2017 | Monday 23 January | Stade de Franceville | 21:00

Group B favourites Senegal and Algeria will lock horns in the final group match of the campaign. At the time of writing, Senegal lead the standings after a well-deserved 2-0 victory over Tunisia on Matchday 1. Algeria suffered a slight hiccup in their opening tie, drawing to Zimbabwe (2-2), despite taking an early lead. The Desert Warriors’ Riyad Mahrez pipped the Lions of Teranga’s Sadio Mane to the African Player of the Year award and will be hopeful he can be on the winning side of Mane once again. The Stade de Franceville will host a game that has all the makings of a final. Who will claim all three points?

*Please note that this article was written prior to their second group matches.

To Win (*Forecast betting)
Senegal 11/10
Draw 24/10
Algeria 47/20

Senegal

With Matchday 2 of the 2017 AFCON yet to be played, the Senegalese are in pole position to make it through to the next round. The Lions of Teranga picked up the only win in Group B to put themselves two points clear over their opponents.

Senegal are firm favourites to finish on top of their group and are priced up at 44/100 to do so, at the time of writing. Against Tunisia in their opening match, it took just 10 minutes for the deadlock to be broken, with Sadio Mane stepping up to the spot and making no mistake.

It was all Senegal from then and they went on to double their lead through Kara Mbodji in the 30th minute. On paper, the Lions of Teranga have one of the most deadly squads in Africa. So deadly that players like Pape Souare of Crystal Palace and Oumar Niasse of Hull City couldn’t make the squad. Not to mention Orlando Pirates’ very own, Issa Sarr.

With top-class players like Mane, Idrissa Gueye, Moussa Sow, Kalidou Koulibaly and captain, Cheikhou Kouyate, it’s almost understandable for any player to be omitted from the squad.

Senegal will be looking to pick up their first win over Algeria in four meetings, after suffering three consecutive defeats to the Desert Warriors. Senegal have met Algeria six times in African Cup of Nations tournaments, failing to claim a victory over them, losing five times.

If they are to turn that dreadful head-to-head record around, players like Mane and Sow will need to be at their very best and prove that they are worthy of being African champions.



Algeria

After a slight setback in their first game against Zimbabwe, Algeria will look to seal their group stage campaign with a victory over Senegal. Riyad Mahrez was at hand to save the Desert Warriors an opening day defeat, netting an 82nd-minute equaliser to complete his brace.

Along with their opponents, Algeria have one of the strongest sides in Africa – on paper and on the pitch. Although, I do find it strange that West Ham winger, Sofiane Feghouli, didn’t make the AFCON squad.

The players that Algeria have at their disposal make it frightening for the opposition. World class players like Mahrez, Islam Slimani, Yacine Brahimi and Faouzi Ghoulam all have experience at the highest level, not to mention the up and coming talent of Nabil Bentaleb.

Brahimi is probably the most direct of the attacking players in Algeria. The FC Porto winger loves to run at the opposition defence and cause havoc and misery to defending full-backs. Mahrez and Slimani already have chemistry together through their partnership at Leicester City. Slimani is known for his aerial abilities, and with Mahrez knowing the ins and outs of Slimani’s movement, the pair will be looking to tame the Lions of Teranga.

Undoubtedly Ghoulam is Africa’s best full back and has proven to be one of the world’s best in his position as well. The Napoli defender enjoys bursting down the left flank with his overlapping runs and can also be a threat from set-pieces too.

From a total of 20 matches played together, Algeria have won 12 and drawn four. As mentioned earlier, the Desert Warriors have also won the last three meetings. Once Algeria get in the mood, they will be difficult to beat.

Probable line-ups:

Senegal: 4-3-3
Diallo; Gassama, Mbodji, Koulibaly, M'Bengue; Gueye, Kouyate, P.N Diaye; Mane, Balde, Diouf.

Algeria: 4-2-3-1
M’Bolhi; Belkhither, Mandi, Bensebaini, Ghoulam; Guedioura, Bentaleb; Mahrez, Brahimi, Soudani; Slimani.

Prediction: Algeria (47/20)
Algeria have the better of the two sides on paper and I’m expecting them to produce the goods on Monday. The Desert Warriors have never lost an AFCON match against Senegal in six meetings, picking up five wins. The trio of Mahrez, Slimani and Brahimi should be too much to handle for the Lions of Teranga. Back Algeria to claim all three points with another victory over their rivals.

Written by Jesse Nagel.