With experience in defense and youthful potential in the midfield and attack, Algeria may just be the surprise package if the World Cup tournament. They'll be heavy underdogs in Group H behind Belgium, but Russia and South Korea could present opportunities for them to pick up some vital points in their campaign to advance beyond the group stages. Algeria's Bosnian manager Vahid Hililhodzic has selected the following 23-man squad:
Rais Mbolhi (CSKA Sofia), Cedric Si Mohamed (CS Constantine), Mohamed Lamine Zemmamouche (USM Alger)
Essaid Belkalem (Watford, on loan from Granada), Madjid Bougherra (Lekhwya Club), Liassine Cadamuro (Mallorca), Faouzi Ghoualm (Napoli), Rafik Halliche (Academica Coimbra), Aissa Mandi (Stade Reims), Carl Medjani (Valenciennes), Djamel Mesbah (Livorno), Mehdi Mostefa (AC Ajaccio)
Fantasy Players To Watch
Nabil Bentaleb - The teenager burst onto the scene under Tim Sherwood at Tottenham Hotspur this season and looked every bit the part as a Premier League player in the second half of the season. The deep-lying midfielder will have more opportunities to be a box-to-box creative player in Algeria's likely 4-2-3-1 system.
Saphir Taider - The man who will be joining Bentaleb in the double pivot has established himself as a regular starter for Inter Milan this season and, like his slightly younger counterpart, has an eye for a pass and also for goal. His defensive abilities will be vital to Algeria's chances as well.
El Arabi Soudani - Not a player who is likely to excite you with his dribbling skills or technical ability, Soudani nevertheless should be a fantasy asset due to his contributions from the left side of the attacking three, the Dynamo Zagreb winger is a prolific goalscorer for both club and country, averaging a goal every other game.
Sofiane Feghouli - Probably the most well-known of Algeria's players, Feghouli has been a vital member of the Valencia team in Spain for the past four seasons. The French-born winger switched his national allegiance to Algeria in 2011 and has scored 5 goals in 19 appearances for his country. It's worth noting, however, that he weighed in with 4 goals and 8 assists for his club side last season, and indication of his ability to play the killer pass. If either he or Soudani are listed as midfielders, they'll be excellent bench options beyond the first game.
Islam Slimani - Top scorer in World Cup qualifying for Algeria, the striker was named Algerian Player of the Year in 2013. The Sporting Lisbon forward will be the main man in the attack and a target for crosses from Feghouli and Soudani. With 11 goals in 20 national team appearances, he looks like an excellent bench/sub option, especially if he's listed cheaply enough to allow you to afford some of the more expensive strikers.