Africa Cup of Nations – Algeria v Tunisia Preview (19/1/17)

Algeria preview

Most people expected the Desert Foxes to breeze past Zimbabwe in the opening match but in the end a late equaliser was required to avoid defeat! In fairness to Algeria, they showed a lot of good things in that fixture, not least an excellent second half to get back into the game with Riyad Mahrez scoring twice overall. However, defensive issues in the opening period were to blame for falling behind. This is what everyone is talking about ahead of this particular game so maybe there could be more of an emphasis in keeping it tight. But this is Algeria and they like to attack, playing to their strengths. The strike duo of Slimani & Soudani are both rated doubtful which could cause them some issues. However, the squad has plenty of depth and even if they end up having to play a false nine upfront, this wouldn't be a disaster.

Tunisia preview

I think it’s fair to say the ‘Eagles of Carthage’ won’t know how they didn’t at least score a goal against Senegal. I’m not suggesting they didn’t deserve to avoid defeat, after all their opponents dominated periods of the contest to which they had no answer. But a fairer reflection of the match would've been a 2-1 or 3-2 loss. Tunisia created plenty of chances but couldn't find a way past goalkeeper Abdoulaye Diallo who was in inspired form. Their conversion rate needs to improve, but Tunisia don’t need to change an awful lot in order to be successful. It was worrying how exposed they were defensively in that fixture, which was surprising considering the expectations of a solid performance. But they looked dangerous going forwards which is a massive positive ahead of facing a potentially vulnerable Algeria.

Conclusion & betting analysis

The way both teams played in their openers leads me to think over 2.25 goals is a good bet here. Algeria didn't surprise anyone by getting involved in a high scoring contest. It was a shock to see them fail to beat Zimbabwe, but they are such a good technical side and can score a couple of goals past anyone in Africa. This is a northern African ‘derby’ match, so the only real worry is if both teams fear losing too much. However, after the first round of matches a draw doesn’t do anyone any good at all to be honest. It’s three points which are required, especially from Tunisia who have yet to get off the mark in this tournament. I see an end to end game, full of chances. Both keepers will probably make numerous saves, but hopefully there’s enough opportunities to bag three goals. If you wanted to be more safe then the over 2 line is becoming a backable price, but I’ll opt for the 2.25 price @ a juicy 2.05.

Prediction: 2-2

Recommended bet 1 unit: Over 2.25 goals @ 2.05 (minimum odds acceptable 1.85)