Algeria Team Review

The Players

Cédric Si Mohamed goalkeeper, CS Constantine

Madjid Bougherra (captain) defender, Lekhwiya

Faouzi Ghoulam defender, Napoli

Essaid Belkalem defender, Watford

Rafik Halliche defender, Académica

Djamel Mesbah defender, Livorno

Hassan Yebda midfielder, Udinese

Medhi Lacen midfielder, Getafe

Nabil Ghilas forward, Porto

10 Sofiane Feghouli midfielder, Valencia

11 Yacine Brahimi midfielder, Granada

12 Carl Medjani defender, Valenciennes

13 Islam Slimani forward, Sporting

14 Nabil Bentaleb midfielder, Tottenham Hotspur

15 El Arbi Hillel Soudani forward, Dinamo Zagreb

16 Mohamed Zemmamouche goalkeeper, USM Alger

17 Liassine Cadamuro-Bentaïba defender, Mallorca

18 Abdelmoumene Djabou midfielder, Club Africain

19 Saphir Taider midfielder, Internazionale

20 Aissa Mandi defender, Reims

21 Riyad Mahrez midfielder, Leicester City

22 Mehdi Mostefa midfielder, Ajaccio

23 Rais M’Bolhi goalkeeper, CSKA Sofia

Star man

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A former France youth international whose speed makes him a natural winger, Valencia’s Sofiane Feghouli has usually been deployed centrally by Algeria since pledging his international allegiance to the country in 2011. Critics insist he should score more often but his many admirers point to the number of chances that he creates for team-mates thanks to an immaculate first touch, excellent passing and knack for producing the unpredictable. Manage to stifle him and opponents will have gone a long way to neutralising Algeria.

Most likely to be sent home in disgrace

Like a careless housekeeper, Hilal Soudani has been known to lose his rag: when he played for Guimarães in Portgual he was sent off for treading on the hand of an opponent, who got up and exacted revenge with a headbutt, and in this season’s Champions League the striker, who is now on the books of Dinamo Zagreb, was sent off against Austria Vienna for berating the referee from the substitute’s bench.

The coach

Vahid Halilhodzic guided Ivory Coast to 2010 finals but was sacked four months before tournament. Wounded in 1992 Bosnian War so has sense of perspective about the manager’s lot.

Grudge match

Meeting France, the country with which Algeria fought a ferocious war of independence, would be sure to arouse passions. The only meeting between the countries, a 2001 friendly in Paris, was abandoned owing to crowd trouble.

Holed up

Sorocaba is the eighth largest city in the state of São Paulo and was once known as “Manchester Paulista” because of the number of English-owned textile factories there. The country’s media have expressed concern about the state of the road serving the team’s residence, the Pitangueiras Farm Hotel, but if coaches can’t handle it there are always alternatives – it is a former horse ranch, and there is still a well-stocked stable. Plus, if there aren’t enough horses to go round, the squad may already contain a few donkeys. There are extreme sports available, including a zip wire and hot-air ballooning.

How they qualified
Rock solid home form saw them top qualifying group with some ease, but only scraped through a play-off on away goals (3-3) against unfancied Burkina Faso.

World Cup high
Beating West Germany 2-1 in Spain ’82… but eliminated by stitch-up when Germans and Austria signed non-aggression pact in final group game.

World Cup low
Managing only a disappointing 0-0 draw against South Africa 2010 no-hopers England, in group stage.

Familiar faces
Riyad Mahrez (Leicester City), Nabil Bentaleb (Tottenham),

Title odds

The stereotype is …
Proud tradition of existential goalkeepers, highly excitable and volatile fans, lots of blokes with similar names.

The reality is …
Decent defensive unit, manager clear-out has got rid of coasting old timers, some talented forwards.

For Algeria’s fourth finals they have set themselves the target of progressing beyond the group stages for the first time.  Halilhodzic is partial to a 4-1-4-1 formation, even more so since the France-born Nabil Bentaleb declared for Algeria, with the Tottenham Hotspur player immediately entrusted with providing midfield protection for a brittle defence marshalled by the creaking Bougherra. Two rapid wingers and the more central Feghouli are the men most likely to create chances for Slimani.

What are they known for?
Camus 8 per cent
Couscous 7 per cent
Camels 5 per cent
Chaffing sand 80 per cent

How Google translates the national anthem
O France! 
Past is the time of palavers. 
We closed it as we close a book,
 O France!

Full version can go on for a Frenchman-baiting five minutes and four seconds.

How to dress like their fans

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Wear green, paint face: supporters of the Desert Foxes seem especially keen on the greasepaint. Favourite chant is “One, two, three, viva Algerie!”

Commentator’s go-to stat
80 per cent of the country is covered by desert. This is their fourth World Cup appearance.