Friday, May 02, 2014

Meet the Team: Algeria

We start our tour of the teams in the World Cup, we'll be glad to begin as we so often do around here with a would be cinderella: Algeria.

Nickname: Les Fennecs--A particular breed of desert foxes, Algeria's fennecs are rather cute and far lesss similar Edwin Rommel.

Islam Slimani 2013 AFCON.jpg
Islam Slimani
Star: Opinion is split but we'll go with Islam Slimani, the best hope Algeria has at the front of the attack. In only 19 matches he has 9 goals, quickly sprinting up the standings of the North African's top scorers. The reining Algerian Player of the Year has had a solid run this year at Sporting Lisbon, and could be poised for a great cup in Brazil.

Hip-Star: Forget the prodigies [Saphir Taïder (22yo MF at Inter Milan), Ishak Belfodil (22yo F at Inter Milan), and Nabil Bentaleb (19yo MF at Tottenham)], way too main stream. Besides Algeria's more defensive. We're backing the old hand Medhi Lacen whose defensive prowess in the midfield helps the protection. He'll never stand out on the score sheet or match report, but he's vital to the action

X-Factor: Algeria's chances may hinge on the attacks of their opponents. With Belgium losing striker Christian Benteke, and both Russia and South Korea emphasizing defense and creation more than finishing, there's a chance that if the games become a war of attrition or a battle in the trenches that Algeria can sneak through.
File:Vahid Halilhodzic, Sol Beni, Abidjan, 4.06.'08 (9606).jpg
Sir Vahid

Coach: Francophone clubs around the world must be queuing up for a talk with Vahid Halildožić, after all it's not every coach that boasts a title like "Chevalier". But when you have an honorary title from the French Legion d'Honneur as a Yugoslavian football manager, hey you've got some pull. He's had tremendous success prepping Ivory Coast for 2010, only to get dumped before the big dance, now the Knight has a shot.

History: In three trips to the Mondiale Algeria's has never matched their showing in 1982, where they opened with a stunning upset of eventual runner's-up West Germany. Since they have only one goal in six matches, but in South Africa they managed an impressive 200 minute stretch of sterling defense where neither England nor the US could muster a goal.
Buy me a Merguez and Cracker Jacks

Food: Keep your brats and polish, when watching Algeria I'll be enjoying a Merguez sausage.

Fool: While there's a parliament and a bunch of parties, there's also a long ruling "President" named Abdelaziz Bouteflika. 15 Years into his reign there's a shut down press and a conspicuously boisterous demand for him to keep altering the constitution and ruling the country.

Best Case: A combination of Slimani and Belofdil provide the punch to balance the a still stellar defense and a stunning draw against Belgium is followed by even more astonishing points against South Korea and Russia, helping Algeria run to the second round.

Worst Case: An aging defense breaks down and the offense never picks up. Les Fennecs still don't score and but find a way to give up a couple and wind up bottom of the group (as most predict).

My prediction: Much as I want to see Algeria pull off a miracle run, even I have to admit it's extremely unlikely. My best guess, they get one great point in a crucial situation--and since they're an easy target, I'll say they take it from Russia. 4th in Group H--1 point

Bonus Hip-Hop Video: Algeria's entry in the World Cup of Hip-Hop: "Revolution" by Intik.

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