Two of the tournaments top sides meet to likely decide who comes out as the top side from group C. Both had comfortable starts, but what can we expect from this game?
Senegal have been heavily tipped to go all the way in this tournament and it’s no surprise given the talent on show in their squad. They got through their first game with ease as they brushed aside Tanzania. Inter Milan’s Balde Keita was the star of the show, his blistering pace and direct running was far too much for the minnows of Tanzania, the winger got himself on the scoresheet along with Club Brugge’s central midfielder Krepin Diatta. Senegal head in to this one as favourites at a price of 2.1 with Algeria out at 3.6 to take the win. Senegal draw no bet is catching my eye at 1.44, Algeria have their strengths but I think as a collective Senegal have the stronger side. That win in their opening game now makes it six straight wins for Senegal and they’ll be keen to show their quality against an Algeria side who are on a very good run of their own.
Algeria themselves are unbeaten in their last six matches. They had a comfortable 2-0 win against Kenya in their opening fixture of this tournament, but they’re in for a completely different test against Senegal. Riyad Mahrez was superb against the Kenyans and Algeria fans and players alike will be hoping he can replicate similar performances throughout the competition. Algeria have real talent in the forward areas, but the strength of their defence is questionable. I think it’s likely they’ll go in to this fixture with the focus of not getting beaten as they’ll fancy their chances of beating Tanzania in their final group game. Under 2.5 goals could be the way to go here, Algeria have seen under 2.5 goals in five of their last six fixtures with Senegal also replicating that stat. Under 2.5 goals is priced at 1.5.
Algeria look likely to start with the same eleven that won their opening game. Baghdad Bounedjah will lead the line after opening his account against Kenya, he’ll be holding out some terrific attacking talent. Yacine Brahimi will remain on the bench, the silky winger had a strong season for Porto but looks unlikely to get in to the starting eleven. Andy Delort hit 14 goals and claimed seven assists for Montpellier in Ligue 1 this season, he’ll be waiting in the wings for a chance to impress on the international stage after gaining lots of attention for his club performances. Riyad Mahrez will play from his favoured right hand side, he’s the obvious pick for an Algerian goal scorer at a price of 5.0 anytime. He’s backed up by Youcef Atal at right back, he was exceptional for Nice this season and is another who may be looking to put himself in the shop window for a big European club.
Senegal will make one notable change from their first game, M’Baye Niang hit eight shots in their first game but only managed to get one on target. Sadio Mane is fit to return and I can only see it being Niang who makes way as Mane takes up a central striking role, more familiar to how he played at Southampton rather than at Liverpool. It’s no surprise to see the Liverpool front man leading the way in the goal scoring markets, he’s 3.1 to score anytime and 6.0 to hit the net first. The pace in wide areas is huge for Senegal, as mentioned before Balde Keita was excellent against Tanzania, Ismaila Sarr will play on the right, he’s been heavily linked with a move to the Premier League and was superb against Arsenal in the Europa League this season. The side has a string spine too with Idrissa Gueye of Everton and Badou Ndiaye of Galatasary providing some real grit and power in midfield. The centre back pairing of Kouyate and Koulibaly is the finest you’ll see at this tournament and they’ve kept five clean sheets in their last six matches at international level. They’re priced at 2.3 to keep another clean sheet here.
This will be a tight contest, as many of the games in this year’s AFCON have been so far. Both these sides have seen under 2.5 goals in five of their last six matches and Senegal are absolute experts at keeping clean sheets, with Kalidou Koulibaly at centre half they have a truly world class centre back and leading the line they have a world class forward. I think a Senegal win and under 2.5 goals is the way to go on this one that selection is priced at 3.75 which looks like excellent value.
Algeria have some great talent throughout their squad but I can’t see them toppling Senegal, I think they’ll look to get a draw at best and aim not to give too much time and space to their opponents, looking to stay compact and regimented. They’ll have one eye on their final group game against much weaker opponents where they could guarantee their qualification in to the knockout rounds.