Algeria vs Slovenia – losers in this game are as good as out
Algeria and Slovenia, the smaller teams in Group C, both need all three points to keep hopes of squeaking into the last 16 alive. Slovenia are favourites at 6/5, Algeria are 23/10. The match kicks off at 12.30 on Sunday.
Algeria and Slovenia have never met before, and are widely considered to be mere bumps in the road waiting for England and the USA to bounce over them en route to the last 16.
However, Group C is the only group in the tournament in which all four teams are ranked in the FIFA top 30, and Slovenia, conquerors of Russia in the playoffs, are definitely worth a second glance.
In spite of being the smallest of all 32 teams at the South Africa World Cup, Slovenia have won five of their last six (their only defeat came to Russia in the playoff first leg). They also only lost 2-1 to England in a friendly last year.
Milivoje Novakovic is the favourite to score the first goal at 9/2, while either Zlatko Dedic (7/1), who scored the winner against Russia, or Zlatan Ljubijankic (7/1) will take the other spot up front.
Slovenia, however, who played in the 2002 finals, have never won, or even drawn, a World Cup game.
While Slovenia are on the up, Algeria are on the slide. Many feel that Algeria are lucky to be here at all, and that they didn’t deserve to scrape past a superior Egypt side to qualify.
Their recent results have been poor; they lost 4-0 to Egypt in the final of the Africa Cup of Nations, then lost 1-0 to Nigeria and 3-0 to the Republic of Ireland, before falling past the UAE (ranked 101), 1-0 in their final warm up.
Coach Rabah Saadane has dropped Algeria’s captain Yazid Mansouri as his form has been so poor, although his new captain, Antar Yahia limped out of training with an ankle injury yesterday. It is not known if he will play or not. Hassan Yebda comes into the side to replace the dropped Mansouri.
Striker Rafik Djebbour is also doubtful and to add to Algeria’s troubles there have also been stories of dressing room discontent.
Can Slovenia keep the Algerians out? They are 9/4 to keep a clean sheet.