World Cup Odds and Picks: Algeria Vs. Slovenia Predictions
by Robert Ferringo - 6/11/2010
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When the draw for the 2010 World Cup was announced I doubt that many people realized that the Algeria-Slovenia matchup in the opener might be one of the key games of Group C.
Algeria and Slovenia will lock horns at 7:30 a.m. EST on Sunday, June 13 in the World Cup opener for each club. Slovenia is ranked No. 25 in the world by the latest FIFA rankings while Algeria is No. 30. But while England and the United States are the clear favorites to come out of this group, the winner of this game would have an inside track at advancement.
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Both of these teams are kind of surprise entrants into the World Cup Final. Slovenia mustered a watershed upset over Russia, earning a nod to South Africa because of their way goals in the two-game playoff. Algeria was also involved in a wacky qualifying that included A) players being beaten by opposing fans on their way to a match with bitter nemesis Egypt, B) their national government then refusing gas exports to Egypt, and C) a classic tiebreaker game in which the Algerians beat their Egyptian rivals 1-0 to advance to the Cup.
So both of these fledgling soccer programs are just happy to be in the field. But there is little doubt that Slovenia is the more talented group and they will have a beat on a trip to the knockout phase if they can manage a win over their upstart opponents. Slovenia has a prime schedule since they get England in their third game. If the English have a trip to the next round wrapped up then Slovenia could potentially steal a point – or even get a win – against the Brits.
If Algeria were to pull the upset in this start then that will open the door for the United States. And it could set up an elimination game when the two sides meet in the final game of the group stage. And if there is a draw between Algeria and Slovenia then that too benefits the U.S. since they will be favored against both clubs and won’t have the pressure of having to make up points.
A big advantage for Slovenia is that the Algerian team – already short on talent – has been very banged up over the last few months. Eight of the Algerian starters have missed time recently and both conditioning and cohesiveness are big problems. One of those starters, mid Mourad Maghni, won’t make the trip to South Africa with the Desert Foxes.
Slovenia, on the other hand, is healthy, experienced and focused.
The Slovenian team is looking for redemption from their disastrous 2002 World Cup. A highly publicized fight between star forward Zlatko Zahovic and coach Srecko Katanec after their opening round loss got Zahovic sent home and led to an 0-3 mess for the national team.
But this year’s team is steady and talented and ready to get past that. Only two of their 11 starters has less than 23 caps and their defense is particularly cohesive, as Brecko, Cesar, Jokic and goalie Samir Handanovic have all been together for over 30 games in their flat 4-4-2 alignment.
Algeria vs. Slovenia World Cup Odds:
The Algerians are the underdogs at +0.5 (-155) to win and Slovenia -0.5 at +120. If you wager with the draw the odds are Algeria +230 to win straight up, Slovenia +115 and the Draw +220. The total is 2.0.
Algeria vs. Slovenia Picks and Predictions:
Algeria Will Win If: Slovenia is looking ahead. This Algerian team is really short on talent and I don’t think that they will win a game in this group. But if they were to steal one it would be here because the Slovenians are looking forward to more highly publicized clashes with the Americans and the English. Algeria will have the advantage of playing on its home continent and they could get a nice bump from the crowd. An early goal could send the crowd into frenzy and really give them a big edge.
Slovenia Will Win If: They rely on their experience and their technical skills. Slovenia is a team with no star player but with a lot of strong chemistry. That stands in contrast to the Algerians who are struggling to find their feet. This Slovenian group beat out the Czech Republic, Poland and Russia to finish No. 2 in their qualifying group, so they have some ability. But they need to stay focused and attack early if they want to earn a precious three points.
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