Algeria vs Libya

We now have something big to talk about. Our upcoming match against our Libyan neighbours is just around the corner, and Coach Vahid has released the list for the squad facing them today. As per usual, before the analysis, let’s take a look at the list:

Rais Mbolhi
Azzeddine Doukha (USMH)
Mohamed Lamine Zemmamouche (USMA)
Cédric Si Mohamed (JSMB)

Essaid Belkalem (JSK)
Djamel Eddine Mesbah (AC Milan/ Italy)
Abderrahmane Hachoud (MCA)
Mokhtar Benmoussa (USMA)
Carl Medjani (AC Ajaccio/ France)
Mehdi Mostefa Sebaa (AC Ajaccio/ France)
Rafik Halliche (FC Fulham/ England)
Betnaiba Liassine Cadamuro (Real Sociedad/ Spain)
Farouk Chafai (USMA)

Mehdi Lacen (Getafe/ Spain)
Adlene Guedioura (Nottingham Forest/England)
Sofiane Feghouli (Valencia/Spain)
Saad Tedjar (USMA)
Abdelmoumene Djabou (Club Africain/Tunisia)
Ryad Boudebouz (FC Sochaux/France)
Foued Kadir (Valenciennes/ France)

Islam Slimani (CRB)
Al Hilal Al Arabi Soudani (Guimares/Portugal)
Ishak Belfodil (Parma/Italy)
Rafik Djebbour (Olympiakos/Greece)

Khaled Lemmouchia (Club Africain/ Tunisia)
Ismael Bouzid
Hameur Bouazza
Mohamed Seguer (USMA)
Mohamed Amine Aoudia (ESS)

M’Bolhi gets his call up despite being without a club and Halliche gets one despite lack of playing time. Lemmouchia has been left in reserve in place of Tedjar, a move which I am neither here nor there about but Vahid will have his reasons and they tend to be in the vast majority correct.

Farouk Chafai of USM Alger gets his first call up moving up from the U23’s like his compatriot Belkalem, who has a very good chance of getting his first start for the NT. No doubt a replacement for the injured Bougherra. Ismael Bouzid has been left out along with Hameur Bouazza, both relegated to the reserve role. Mohamed Seguer did enough to make it to that list along with Aoudia who just did not have any room to move with Belfodil coming in for the first time.

As has been mentioned on the last post, this list is quite solid. A few tweaks here and there and it’s nigh on our strongest team. Yebda’s return is still highly anticipated along with the induction of the likes of Brahimi and Abeid to add youth to the side. Ziani is still a grey area, with some calling for his return and others saying his time has passed. Abdoun too is a frequently mentioned name but in my opinion, for the time being at least, we can do without him. Very happy to see Bouazza has been cut loose, all due respect to the man but he was far away from providing any resourceful impetus during his last few outings with us.

Ryad Boudebouz’s club situation hasn’t hampered his opportunity to grace the NT once more, lining up alongside Kadir, Feghouli and Djabou in our attacking midfield compartment. Both ‘Soso’ and Guedioura have started the new season where they left off and look to carry on in the same form for the NT.

I’d say on the whole, bar any standout showings in the pre-match training camp, that the line up for the game from this list is pretty predictable, save for two positions; Right-back and Striker.

This depends on how we play with regards to our formation, the formation that worked really well for us of late is the 4-2-2-2 with 2 wingers supporting the strikers of whom one would occasionally drop to gain possession and supply. The other that has been used time and time again but is faltering in it’s efficiency is 4-2-3-1, with a lone striker, something that I personally think Algeria cannot afford to resort to particularly when getting goals is on the agenda for us.

Right-back is a conundrum regardless of formation. You have Hachoud, Bentaiba and Mostefa all ready to play there, whilst Bentaiba is capable of going at centre-back. Mostefa has been the least effective of the three although Bentaiba has only been played once but is consistently strong for Sociedad. Hachoud has been the standout choice of late though, marking his entrance into the NT with two brilliant performances against Rwanda and Niger.

Up front the most likely thing to see would be the return of the Soudani-Slimani duo that had Algerians in raptures last spring. Slimani outshone Djebbour for the joining role to Soudani who was incredibly powerful during the games. However the call up of progeny Ishak Belfodil may tilt the tables. He was on great form during the pre-season and may get his chance to prove to the Algerian public he’s ready to do the same for them. However I would still have liked to see Aoudia in that list. He did well in his game against Gambia and deserves another chance.

Midfield is a done deal. Lacen-Guedioura with Feghouli-Boudebouz. Done. Djabou hopefully to get some time and come on as an impact sub.

Vahid has a strong list at his disposal. He may even make this talk of tactics futile. He’s been known to mix it up a bit so we might see something new this time to tackle the different prospect of North African opposition. Either way, he knows what we need to do to win, and will ensure the players make it happen.

The Libyans however, will be far, far away from pushovers. They showed class in the last AFCON and have been doing well in their pre match camp and friendlies thus far. But they have the burden of not playing their game at home due to political unrest. This may become an added moral motivation for them which means we will have to be extra wary of them. They beat Cameroon – faltering giants but giants nonetheless – and will want to carry on making statements.

My prediction for the line-up? I’d have to be safe and go for the 4-2-2-2. Most efficient, most offensive. Should get the job done:

GK: M’Bolhi
LB: Mesbah
CB: Belkalem
CB: Medjani (Halliche if fit)
RB: Bentaiba
CM: Lacen
CM: Guedioura
LW: Feghouli
RW: Boudebouz
CF: Soudani
ST: Slimani

The score will be close in my opinion. Anyone who outright predicts a margin of more than 3 goals in a North African derby is crazy. But what isn’t crazy is to suggest that both teams can get 3 goals. I’ll go for a solid 2-0 so we don’t have to worry about that away goal.

Insha’Allah kheir.

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