Sunday, June 13, 2010

Match of the Minnows

So the morning after the night before. England should take last night as a blessing in disguise. Considering their warm-up, that is not he worst way to start a tournament and the US have been flying.

Anyway, Slovenia vs Algeria. If Greece and South Korea couldn't fill Mandela Bay stadium then I'm a little surprised this one can. But apparently South Korea - Greece was the hardest game to fill for the organisers.

And so Group B's unlikely qualifiers meet. As 3 points go, these are more crucial to both teams than England's dropped 2. The task gets harder for both so I imagine this is an opportunity in Saadane and Kek's collective minds.

Algeria dispatched The Ivory Coast in the ANC in Angola this January. Then they got a bit emotional against a vengeful Egypt. Travesty really. Egypt are by far the best team in Africa yet they aren't here. Rueful is the word. I digress. Algeria truly looked like they would get a nose bleed if they came up against any higher opposition than Egypt and beating Drogba's men was more an issue of failure rather than Algerian success.

But the early kick-off tomorrow is a different beat. Ziani and Meghni are The Desert Foxes stand-out players. Ziani left Marseille to join 'Plastic Teeth' Steve McClaren's new side Wolfsburg. Quite flashy from this video of him against Liverpool with the accompaniment of this strange sound track but he and Mourad Meghni of Lazio give Algeria width and with their full-backs will try and stretch teams. However, no Belhadj tomorrow due to suspension (he and their crazy keeper were sent off against Egypt in Angola). Apparently, a 'patient' team, which suggests they will be slow and that won't bode well if they let Slovenia get a grip. Bougherra of Rangers at the back is key to instilling defensive discipline if that is the way they decide to play.

Slovenia were poor in South Korea & Japan 8 years ago and that was their 'golden' generation (although Zahovic was quite nice to watch). However, this time they return after knocking out Guus Hiddink's Russia in a play-off depriving us of seeing Arshavin in full flow. So they better be good. Dedic is key to Slovenia. He does the running, industry and guile for Novakovic to gain chances but it was the former's combination with Birsa that sent them to their second World Cup. Birsa plays tighter inside but still finds a deeper position to cross from and to some affect. This is the goal that sent them through

Whether that is enough to qualify is another question but both teams have to view this as their best chance to get 3 points.

For discipline, I can see Slovenia winning this....1 nil. Yawnnnn.

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