The FIFA World Cup 2014 knockout stages have arrived, with 16 teams exiting at the group stage and the rest left to fight it out for the ultimate prize.
Here we analyse Germany vs. Algeria: a game in which the former are heavy favourites to win, but the latter won't go down without a fight.
Germany emerged from a group stacked with good sides to qualify first, but even still, Joachim Low is attracting criticism for his team selections and performances.
Benedikt Hoewedes and Jerome Boateng have managed at full-back but look susceptible to pace, while Philipp Lahm has underwhelmed in holding midfield. At the very least, Thomas Mueller has carried the goalscoring burden and Mario Goetze has excelled from the left.
Lukas Podolski has been ruled out of the match, per BBC Sport, and Sami Khedira could remain on the bench in favour of Bastian Schweinsteiger.
Die Mannschaft are expected to win, but Low isn't taking anything for granted. "We'll be full of confidence, but it would be a big mistake to think it will be easy," the coach told reporters, via Goal.com, ahead of the fixture.
Algeria qualified for the knockout stages for the first time in their history last week, drawing 1-1 with Russia to seal passage from Group H.
We saw three sides to them during the group-stage games, ranging from defensive (Belgium), through combative and feisty (Russia) and into all-out attack (South Korea).
With Germany on the horizon we think we'll see the first incarnation of them resurface, with a return to the deep-set 4-3-3, counter-attacking philosophy expected.
If Islam Slimani scores tomorrow he will be Algeria's sole record holder for goals scored at a World Cup with 3.— Maher Mezahi (@MezahiMaher) June 29, 2014
Saphir Taider will likely come into the XI at the expense of Abdelmoumene Djabou, adding a powerful central midfielder to the core and shifting Yacine Brahimi wide.
2 Tactical Clashes
1. Something's Got to Give
Germany have been playing football at arms' length, refusing to be drawn into too many frivolous dribbles and playing safe passes where possible.
Against Algeria that'll be useless, and if the Desert Foxes follow that blueprint, it'll be 0-0 at the 80-minute mark and Hoewedes will need to start swinging crosses in.
Algeria will sit deep and play hard to beat, just as they did against Belgium in the opener, and Germany will need to take some risks to get into that box.
Mario Goetze, we're looking at you.
2. Lahm On the Reverse
Lahm has struggled in defensive midfield against quick, incisive opponents. Barring that last-ditch saving tackle late against the USA, he's only really been useful in moving the ball quickly between the lines to avoid pressing.
He's better than this, and we know it; he's set for a bounce-back game sooner or later, and it needs to be against Algeria's counter-attacking threat.
Brahimi, Islam Slimani and Sofiane Feghouli are deadly in space and Germany's back line can redefine slow at times. Lahm to the rescue?
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