European heavyweights Germany will take on Algeria in the round of 16 of the 2014 World Cup on Monday, with a date against the winner of France vs. Nigeria in the quarter-finals on the line.
The Desert Warriors overcame a bad start against Belgium to convincingly qualify from Group H, and their defensive prowess will be tested against a German team boasting arguably more attacking quality than any other team in world football.
Die Mannschaft slipped up against Ghana but otherwise dominated the Group Of Death, and powered by the excellent form of Thomas Mueller, they'll be looking to continue their run for the World Cup trophy past a resilient Algerian team.
Date: Monday, June 30
Time: 9 p.m. BST/4 p.m. ET
Venue: Estadio Beira-Rio, Porto Alegre
Algeria's progression from Group H may have been unexpected for the casual fan, but the Desert Warriors have quietly been playing excellent football for quite some time. With a tremendous defensive unit and athletic wide players on the counter, Algeria will be a handful for any opponents they face.
Manager Vahid Halilhodzic is aware his team is facing a monumental task, taking on the powerful Germans, as he told reporters (h/t to Sky Sports):
"We are the small, small Algeria and now play against the big, big Germany. This fourth game will be more than complicated."
Young star Nabil Bentaleb has more than held his own in midfield, playing in front of Carl Medjani, who has emerged as one of the tournament's best players when it comes to protecting the back four.
Sofiane Feghouli's World Cup could hardly have gone any better, and he will use his pure athleticism and great instincts to try and hurt Die Mannschaft on the counter.
Algeria showed their ability to put men behind the ball and break quickly in their opening match against Belgium, but they were undone in the final 20 minutes by two goals from substitutes.
The Red Devils can put pressure on a defensive front, but it's nothing compared to the onslaught the Germans are capable of launching. Algeria can't afford to lose their focus for even a second, as Germany have the talent to punish even the smallest mistake.
Mueller has scored four goals in this World Cup already, and according to ESPN's Dale Johnson, his history in the tournament indicates he is in no way finished:
Thomas Muller (24) is the fourth-youngest player to score nine World Cup goals and the youngest since #GER Gerd Muller in 1970.— Dale Johnson (@dalejohnsonESPN) June 27, 2014
Via World Cup 2014, Lukas Podolski won't be available for Germany, though the Arsenal forward is mostly used as a substitute anyway:
Germany's Lukas Podolski has been ruled out of the Round of 16 match against Algeria due to a pulled muscle.— World Cup 2014 (@WorldCupPosts) June 29, 2014
Germany showed their ability to play against a defence organising in a low block when they took on the USA, and while they dominated that match from start to finish, they only managed to score a single goal.
It's important to remember that fixture was played in the pouring rain, however, aiding the defending team. Also, Germany only needed a draw to advance to the next round, so there was no reason to commit too many players forward.
Things will be different against Algeria, but while Die Mannschaft will be heavy favourites in this match, they will have to be careful. Ghana somewhat highlighted the lack of mobility of the German fullbacks, and Algeria have the players to take advantage of that issue on quick counter-attacks.
That said, the Germans are clearly superior to the Algerians in terms of talent, and if they stick to their strengths (possession in the centre of the pitch and excellent runs into the box), they should be able to win this match.