Germans to dash Algerian dreams

  • By: David John
  • Last Updated: June 29 2014, 15:38 BST

It is Europe versus Africa on Monday with two more games from the last 16 of the World Cup in Brazil.

Germany should have too much in the locker for Algeria
Germany should have too much in the locker for Algeria

David John thinks Nigeria will be competitive against a lively France outfit in the first game in Brasilia.

Then it is the turn of Germany, who should be able to end Algeria's World Cup hopes after already making history.

France v Nigeria (Round of 16, Brasilia, 1700 BST)

You would think that the French will be in a pretty confident frame of mind in historical terms as every time they have escaped from the group stage at the World Cup finals, they have done no worse than a place in the last four.

And from what we have seen on the pitch as well, this Les Bleus outfit is one that looks to have plenty of belief to go with the undoubted talent.

The worry before a ball was kicked was perhaps the first sign of strife would see any harmony evaporate after an awful performance in South Africa four years ago but coach Didier Deschamps seems to have everyone on the same page of the playbook.

It meant he could afford to rest one or two players for last week's 0-0 draw with Ecuador having comfortably wrapped up progression so now the serious business starts.

It is hard not to get a little bit excited about France's prospects.

They have in-form striker Karim Benzema (none of this 'false 9' twaddle) who hits the target with regularity and a skilful midfield with options that include Mathieu Valbuena, Yohan Cabaye, Paul Pogba and the marvellous Blaise Matuidi.

There is pace down the flanks from the wingbacks while two clean sheets during the group stage suggests the defence as a whole has some sort of solidity.

So little surprise to see them priced up at 1/2 to win the game in 90 minutes and no bigger than 2/7 to qualify against a Nigeria side that has reached this stage for the first time since 1998.

Stephen Keshi's outfit has grown into the tournament nicely and they certainly went toe-to-toe last time against Argentina where the pace of two-goal Ahmed Musa gave the South American's defence more than a few headaches.

Their physicality once more could be key in the final third with Emmanuel Emenike a handful as well while Stoke's Peter Odemwingie has really looked at home on the world stage so far.

Let's hope that the distraction over a payments wrangle which saw the players boycott a training session does not come back to haunt them - I don't really see why it should after the president Goodluck Jonathan stepped in to guarantee the booty - so I feel that the African champions have more than enough to make this interesting.

Challenging Benzema is a bit of a calculated risk but in Lille goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama, Nigeria have a stout final line of defence and they did manage two match France's two clean sheets to reach this game.

So I have a hunch this one will still be very much up in the air with 45 minutes to play and a bet on the draw at half-time could pay up quicker than the Nigerian government.

Verdict: France 2 Nigeria 1

Opta Facts:

France attempted more shots at goal (50; excl. blocked) than any other side during the 2014 World Cup group stages.

Nigerian goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama kept more clean sheets than any other goalkeeper during the 2013-14 French Ligue 1 season for Lille.

On the last five occasions that France have progressed past round 1 in the World Cup, they have reached the semi-final stage (1958, 1982, 1986, 1998 and 2006).

Karim Benzema has scored nine goals in his last nine appearances for France, including three goals in his three appearances at this World Cup.

Nigeria have only won one of their last 11 World Cup matches.

Nigeria have lost both of their previous World Cup second round ties - 1-2 v Italy in 1994 and 1-4 v Denmark in 1998.

Germany v Algeria (Round of 16, Porto Alegre, 2100BST)

Those of you with long memories and a touch of the romantics will be all over Algeria at 11/1 to win this game or perhaps a more sedentary 6/1 to qualify.

Cast your mind back (or look on Wikipedia) to the 1982 finals in Spain where West Germany beat Austria with an "advantageous" 1-0 scoreline to ensure both qualified - at the expense of Algeria.

Current head coach of the latter, Vahid Halilhodzic, is now using that rather unsavoury piece of footballing history as a motivational tool ("we have not forgotten") after his side qualified for the knockout phase for the first time in their history and sparked wild scenes of all-night celebrations on the streets of Algiers.

A 1-1 draw against Russia following defeat to Belgium and then a victory over South Korea has really seen the Africans capture the imagination with some classy performances from Islam Slimani, Yacine Brahimi and Sofiane Feghouli to name just three.

The issue now for them is two-fold in my opinion.

Firstly, is the revenge factor a bit of a red herring with certainly the vast majority on both sides not even born in 1982?

And secondly, can Algeria find that same level of intensity against a renowned nation at this level which has now emerged from the group phase on nine straight occasions?

For all that Algeria have brought to the table so far, my instinct says no.

Joachim Low's side have perhaps looked the most in command of their vehicle over the opening fortnight.

They ruthlessly hammered Portugal 4-0 to open up and although they were pushed harder in the 2-2 draw with Ghana, they then controlled long periods of the game again in the 1-0 success over USA without having to over-extend themselves.

They certainly have an authority about them with the promise of another gear or two if push comes to shove when things start to really get tense and the result against Ghana will definitely serves as a reminder to ensure no semblance of complacency at this all-or-nothing stage of the competition.

Their price to win here has already shortened from 1/3 to 3/10 and although an Algeria side on top of their game could make things awkward, Germany's nous at this level should ultimately ensure passage into the quarter-finals.

So take them to dominate proceedings from an early stage and keep turning the screw on the way to glory.

Verdict: Germany 3 Algeria 0

Opta Facts:

Algeria are the sixth African team to reach the knockout stages of a World Cup (after Morocco, Cameroon, Senegal, Nigeria and Ghana).

Germany have reached the semi-finals of the last three World Cups. No nation has ever made the last four in four successive tournaments.

Germany have lost both of their previous meetings with Algeria in all competitions, scoring once and conceding four times.

Joachim Löw's side attempted 1999 passes (incl. crosses and corners) in the group stage, more than any other side.

  • Preview posted at 1535 BST on 29/06/2014.