The impressive Algerians face the distinctly unimpressive Russians in the final Group H game. Experts Yanis Boukerrou and Artur Petrosyan go head-to-head.
Yanis Boukerrou on Algeria: There has been little media indication on what the starting 11 might be. Algerian gaffer is keeping cards very close to his chest for this affair and with good reason. Algeria with a win or draw can qualify for the knockouts for the first time in their history. Since Vahid made five changes to the lineup for the South Korea game, there is no real ability to gage the team that will show up Thursday afternoon.
Artur Petrosyan on Russia: No injury concerns for Capello once again. Russia need to win and it seems that even Fabio Capello now admits they’ll be a more attacking side this time. Kokorin will probably keep his place in attack despite disappointing in both previous games or move to the left with Kerzhakov coming in as a striker. Dzagoev is believed to finally start in the number 10 role with holding midfielder Denisov replacing Glushakov who was to blame for the only Belgian goal last Sunday.
Yanis Boukerrou: Against South Korea, Algeria not only produced a needed a result, but a much needed performance. The game showed the swagger, tenacity and hunger the Algerian side possess and they will be looking to show similar traits against Russia. Despite scoring a versatile four goals, they did manage to concede 2 soft efforts. Defensive frailty may be an issue that must be worked out if Algeria want to qualify for the knockout.
Artur Petrosyan: Russia's loss in Rio was their first in 12 matches but the critics towards Capello became stronger than ever before. It's all due to his cautious tactics and some unexplainable decisions he's made regarding team selection. Many are questioning the FA decision to have prolonged his contract until 2018 making him the highest paid manager in the World Cup with a salary of £7m year. And recently even the Minister of Sport in Russia Vitaly Mutko - who’s always backed Capello - criticised the Italian for “playing too cautiously and not giving enough time to Dzagoev and Kerzhakov”.
WHAT THE MANAGER SAYS
Vahid Halilhodžić on Algeria: “A draw should be enough, but we’ll try and go for the win”
Russia’s Fabio Capello: "It was a great game of football against Belgium. Unfortunately Belgium had more luck but I'm satisfied with the way we played. We showed that we are a team. Against Algeria we need to win so we’ll have to go on the attack."
Yanis Boukerrou: With the starting XI up in the air, we can still rely on Feghouli claiming his place at right wing. Feghouli will be heavily relied on yet again for his work rate. With Russia’s left hand side looking rather suspect, Feghouli will have to help close up shop on Algeria’s end and make matters very difficult for Russia on the break. Algeria are looking to make history, and eyes will be fixated on the star-man to deliver.
Artur Petrosyan: It has to be Alan Dzagoev. He impressed after coming on as a sub against Korea but was given only 7 minutes to perform against Belgium. Now the whole country is begging Capello to trust in the young Ossetian, believing he’s the only one of 23 who can create miracles and make the team play the right way. It seems like the Italian boss has finally agreed and in the last training session Dzagoev was among the likely starters.
Yanis Boukerrou: While Algeria have recorded an impressive twelve goals in their last five, Russia have only conceded three in their last five. Those three goals were all conceded in the second half. Scoring in the second half is something Algeria has struggled to do with major consistency. With that in mind, perhaps a worthwhile bet would be the game to end with total goals under 1.5 at 3.25 due to the potential cagey nature of this match.
Artur Petrosyan: Russia are excellent physically but are usually slow starters. Algeria, on the contrary, are brave at the start but get exhausted after 70 minutes. So 1/2 in the HT/FT market at odds of 24.00 looks good to me. I believe this time Russia’s match won’t be as dull as the previous ones. They need to win and will have to attack. Algeria are not great defensively but with some quick attacking players will create chances on the counter. Therefore, Both Teams To Score is worth a punt at 1.67.
Yanis Boukerrou: Algeria 1-1 Russia at odds of 7.50
Artur Petrosyan: Algeria 2 - 2 Russia at odds of 14.00
Bet on Algeria v Russia now.