When England and Algeria hit the pitch Friday, the two squads are in two completely different scenarios, but each are equally as desperate for a win.
England saw its chances to lead Group C disappear after their draw with the U.S.
They seemed to have command of the match throughout, but the luck of the Yanks cost the Brits two points and a spot atop the group with Slovenia.
On the other side, Algeria suffered the group’s first loss and resides in fourth place.
Their defeat at the hands of Slovenia puts them in a must-win today, or else they will be mathematically eliminated from advancing to the next round.
It’s a must-win as well for England if they have any plans of going deep into the tournament.
Three points would put them ahead of the U.S. and in second place in the group, giving them a berth into the second round.
Both sides will need their team play to shine in order to take the game.
While the top players will need to be involved early, there are a few players for each country that can have a bigger impact than their talent indicates.
Belhadj had one of Algeria’s best chances to score against Slovenia, but was easily denied by the keeper.
However, this defender needs to get more than just a couple chances if his squad wants a chance to upset England.
The 28-year-old has a rocket for a leg and can deliver a score from distance with ease, but the one thing he needs to focus on is not giving up his defensive role in order to attack, or else Wayne Rooney will have a field day.
While Barry did not play in the opener versus the U.S.A., his presence will be felt immediately against Algeria.
The midfield needed a boost and a team player, and they certainly got one in Barry.
He will need to put his versatility on display, as the 29-year-old can play holding midfielder, attacking midfielder, or defender.
He doesn’t have the best burst around, but Britain needs someone to help spread the ball around.
Barry’s their man.
Ziani almost turned the Algeria deficit into a tie with a strong effort against Slovenia.
While he knows how much it would have meant to his side, the midfielder knows he needs to keep pushing to get any points against the English.
There should be no doubt that Ziani is the right guy to do it.
His top-notch ball control and attacking mindset make him the perfect candidate to lead Algeria to an upset, but only if he can stay away from his greedy tendencies.
Lampard’s ineffectiveness in the match against the U.S. was one of the reasons for the draw.
His inability to work cohesively with Gerrard in the midfield led to more than a few costly losses of possession.
While he isn’t the most versatile midfielder, Lampard didn’t get his reputation as a top goal scorer by accident.
England will need his efficient style to come to the forefront in order to get a win.
Halliche has shown his skill as both a stopper and a sweeper for the Algerians.
He has a knack for the ball and is also a quality offensive player from the defensive back.
The young defender is going to need to put his reputation on the line to pull off an upset.
He is known as a tough guy amongst his teammates, and he must turn that aggression into a physicality that the English can’t match.
The change that so many saw coming looks like it is about to happen.
While it didn’t surprise many that Robert Green started the opener, his performance left the door wide open for the veteran James to take over between the sticks.
Calamity James may be the oldest player on the pitch for the English, but he is also one of the most experienced.
If he can use his knowledge and size to keep Algeria at bay and avoid the clanger, he will get his squad three points.
Djebbour, while young, is one of Algeria's best forwards.
However, against Slovenia, he had no shots on his stat line, and that cannot be repeated if Algeria wants any points Friday.
The 25-year-old had a great bunch of performances in the squad’s qualifying run, and he needs to get more attacks closer to the net to duplicate this success.
His opportunistic play will help their chances, but he has to stay level-headed in order to really lift the team.
Rooney may not be the best player in the world, but he is certainly in the discussion.
Against the U.S., he did not get the kind of touches he needed to leave his mark on the game.
The game plan today should be to get him the ball in the box early and often.
The key to Rooney’s play depends on how powerfully he can play on and off the ball for 90 minutes.
If he doesn’t get enough looks, he could get frustrated, which often lowers his ability on the pitch.
That just can’t happen if England wants to advance.
Chaouchi had the closest thing to Green’s blunder with his play in the Slovenia game.
He allowed a goal to roll into his net after misjudging a strike and letting it bounce of his arm in the 79th minute.
He became a national icon with his great play in the squad’s qualifying run and needs to bring that play to the pitch Friday.
He has great range thanks to his length, but his lack of experience could cause more errors and leave the Algerians defeated.
The English captain had a very solid game against the Americans, and he plans on keeping it up today.
His goal in the early minutes of the opener set the first half's tone, and had it not been for Clint Dempsey’s lucky goal, he would have been praised as a hero of the match.
But Gerrard can reclaim that title with a strong outing versus Algeria.
He has been lauded for his leadership in the midfield, and with Barry back, he will split out wide where he has played exceptionally well.
If he can command the pitch and spread the Algerians out, he will open up the passing lanes and guide his team to victory.