The final set of FIFA World Cup 2014 group games is upon us—where on earth did the time go?
Here we analyse Algeria vs. Russia: a game in which the Desert Foxes only need a draw to progress to the round of 16, but a win for Russia can see them through provided South Korea don't beat Belgium.
Algeria impressed millions in taking down South Korea 4-2 last week, with their delightful attacking display belying the defensive, cautious one in display against Belgium.
Yacine Brahimi led an adventurous, young group of offensive players who were willing to take risks, play difficult passes and seize chances. Islam Slimani scored, Sofiane Feghouli impressed and all of Vahid Halilhodzic's tactical tweaks and subs paid off.
It's a dangerous blend as far as opponents are concerned, with the Desert Foxes now riding high on confidence after scoring a hat full of goals.
Algeria have never reached the knockout stages of the World Cup in their history; on Thursday, these players can become heroes.
"We have studied new schemes, new models and I think tomorrow we will score, we're bound to score tomorrow," Vasily Berezutskiy told reporters, via The Star-Telegram.
Fighting talk from Russia's captain will be well-received by Sbornaya fans, as up until now they've looked a little drab, uninventive and clueless in the final third.
If Fabio Capello continues with a very limited 4-3-3/4-4-4-1-1 system, there won't be any changes, but should he finally introduce Alan Dzagoev and Aleksandr Kerzhakov from the start, it could be a different story.
Russia aren't expected to pull up any trees in Brazil, but they need some form of positivity to carry into their preparations to host the tournament in four years.
2 Tactical Clashes
1. Do the Son
South Korea didn't have many sustained periods of pressure against Algeria, but the few they did muster were all courtesy of some excellent play down the left by Son Heung-min.
Algeria play without a proper right-winger, instead utilising the malleable Sofiane Feghouli there, and as a result, he doesn't track back like a true wide man would.
Son got in ahead of Aissa Mandi one vs. one several times, and the lack of opposition to the positions he took up on the edge of the box created two goals.
2. Work the Wide Areas
Russia were once blessed with incredible full-backs, with Yury Zhirkov reigning supreme from the left and Aleksandr Anyukov reciprocating from the right.
Now the pickings are decidedly slimmer, with Dmitri Kombarov and Andrey Eshchenko lining up either side of a creaking central defensive pairing. It's the perfect area of the pitch to target.
Algeria were a force down the left against South Korea, combining Djamel Mesbah with Brahimi and Abdelmoumene Djabou to devastating effect. If it worked before...
Bleacher Report will do a tactical preview and review of every single 2014 FIFA World Cup game. Stay tuned to this link and check it every day for more.
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