Algeria's World Cup predictions
After four years of waiting, the time has come. Another World Cup is here, and our bloggers across all 32 competing countries have each predicted the fate that awaits their team. The country's Outlook gives a general view of its situation ahead of the tournament, while Pitfalls takes a look at any potential problems. Each blogger will also predict the top scorer and breakout star and suggest how far that nation can go.
Preparations have gone swimmingly as Algeria raised their spirits with two morale-boosting wins, while experimenting with several different tactical schemes. Algeria ripped Armenia to shreds in the first half of their friendly in Sion. The combination play of the likes of Riyad Mahrez and Yacine Brahimi created plentiful scoring opportunities for Les Fennecs, who shot out to a 3-0 first-half lead before ending up 3-1 winners.
Against Romania, coach Vahid Halilhodzic tested out the defensive side of the team. This means Algeria had significantly less possession, but they capitalised on Romanian mistakes to counter-attack with great efficiency. In addition to the progress on the field, Algeria have managed to avoid any major injuries, so coach Halilhodzic could not have expected much better.
All 32 team previews and predictions
Brazil | Cameroon | Croatia | Mexico
Australia | Netherlands | Chile | Spain
Colombia | Greece | Ivory Coast | Japan
Costa Rica | England | Italy | Uruguay
Ecuador | France | Honduras | Switzerland
Argentina | Bosnia | Iran | Nigeria
Germany | Ghana | Portugal | USA
Algeria | Belgium | Russia | South Korea
Les Fennecs are the World Cup's least experienced side, with the average player racking up a mere 16 caps. In defence, Liassine Cadamuro, Faouzi Ghoulam and Aissa Mandi -- three of the expected four starters against Belgium -- have fewer than 10 caps to their name. Unfortunately, not much can be done about a lack of experience, but concentration levels will need to be especially high so as to minimize the possibility of making avoidable errors. Another area of concern is in between the sticks. Either Rais M'Bolhi or Mohamed Lamine Zemmamouche will tend the goal in Brazil and both men were slightly at fault with the goals they conceded against Armenia and Romania.
Hillal Soudani is in great form and he should start all three matches as a striker or a winger. The intelligence of his movement was on display against Romania as he lost Dragos Grigore with a clever, bending run to connect with Saphir Taider's driven cross. That killer instinct makes him a dangerous opponent against fullbacks and centre-halves alike, and the Dinamo Zagreb striker should surprise in Brazil. He has the strength to get the better of smaller defenders, but the guile to manoeuvre past bigger ones.
Riyad Mahrez has been spectacular in 2014. After a relatively low-profile move from Le Havre to Leicester City, he so impressed that he was called up to Algeria's World Cup squad. Though initially pencilled in as a fringe player, Mahrez has exceeded all expectations and whispers around camp suggest that he could start against Belgium. Mahrez is a lanky winger who, when gliding across the pitch, has the capabilities to beat any defender on the dribble. His breakaway speed makes him a game-changer, so Halilhodzic may also use him as a super-sub. Though many may not have yet heard of Mahrez, he's sure to catch the eye in Brazil.
PREDICTION: LAST 16
After impressing in pre-tournament friendlies, Algeria have what it takes to make it out of Group H. The team have capped off preparations with no injuries to report and have several tactical schemes in their arsenal; Halilhodzic has examined each opponent studiously, and will have hatched a game plan for all three matches. Another auspicious sign is that each of Algeria's Group H opponents -- Belgium, Russia and South Korea -- have lost players to injury, while the North Africans have managed to keep the medical room empty. All is set to create an upset in Brazil.