Nigeria vs Algeria: predict and win
Nigeria vs Algeria: predict and win

What elements could decide the result of the well disposed between the Super Eagles and African champions??

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Nigeria vs Algeria

In a repeat of the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations semi-final, the West Africans lock horns with the continent’s top side looking for some revenge of sorts. Both sides faced off in Cairo over a year ago with Djamel Belmadi’s troops emerging 2-1 winners.

While the final score and the late timing of the North African nation’s winning strike suggests the game at the Cairo International Stadium was close, the Algerians were arguably head and shoulders above Gernot Rohr’s men in their application and in-game management.

Friday’s game at the Jacques Lehmans Arena may not have a lot riding on it, but the Super Eagles will be out to get one over the African champions after last year’s gut-wrenching elimination.

Both sides have been unbeaten since the finals and the pair’s 100 percent record in Afcon qualification puts them among the six nations without blemish in the race to play in Cameroon.

So, where could Friday’s match between the African champions be won and lost?

  1. Getty Images

Dealing with Mahrez

Well, thank you, Captain Obvious!

Admittedly, this is a well-known fact given the Manchester City wideman’s pedigree. Still, it’s a fact that’ll be drummed into the West Africans by Rohr given Mahrez’s influence in deciding the game in Egypt.

While the Dessert Foxes went ahead through a William Troost-Ekong own goal, it was the wideman’s direct running and trickery that created the situation. Having beat Jamilu Collins, the Algeria superstar’s low cross was diverted by the left-back’s foot onto the Watford centre-back.

He then settled the tie with a last-gasp free-kick in the 95th minute of the encounter, knocking Nigeria out.

Mahrez’s ability to pull a rabbit out of the hat could decide the and it’s necessary to limit his influence on Friday.

  1. Wilfred Ndidi’s absence, Mikel Agu’s return

    In truth, any side without the Leicester City man will struggle given his well-known strengths in and out of possession.

    Rohr’s tried to mitigate for Ndidi’s absence with call-ups for Mikel Agu and Frank Onyeka, while Samson Tijani is an outsider to start against Algeria.

    Agu’s adeptness at winning back possession has been helpful in Vitoria de Guimaraes’ recent unbeaten run — he missed their opening day defeat by Belenenses.

    While the 27-year-old is clearly not at the Leicester star’s level, Nigeria’s showing could hinge on the midfielder who last started for the Super Eagles in a friendly vs Uganda in 2018.

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Containing Ismael Bennacer

Mahrez’s place as Algeria’s star player is unlikely to be untouched but Bennacer’s influence in the middle of the park is quite evident.

When the sides met a year ago, the AC Milan midfielder had fewer touches than Ndidi and Oghenekaro Etebo, however, he was more creative than the pair and offered more attacking threat.

Bennacer made one of the Fennecs’ once in a lifetime opportunities and was very unfortunate to see a scratching exertion from 20-to-25 yards return off the bar minutes before Mahrez dominated the match.

With Ndidi missing this time through injury, the Milan player could convey significantly more impact in Friday’s installation.

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