Their last confrontation, in group stage, had delivered few lessons. Senegal and Algeria face each other on Friday night in the final of the African Cup of Nations and the fight should be quite different than the weak Algerian victory (1-0) of June 27, tainted, what is more , a "forgotten" penalty for the Teranga Lions.
Led by two old friends from Champigny (Val-de-Marne) on the bench, coaches Aliou Cissé and Djamel Belmadi, both teams have shown since the beginning of the competition that they had the build to win the continental title. They especially developed two different styles of play, which it is interesting to analyze a few hours of the fateful duel.
In attack, advantage to the Fennecs
Algeria has distinguished itself by a flamboyant attack: in six games, she scored 12 goals, strong offensive contributions of Adam Ounas (3 goals, 1 assist), Riyad Mahrez (3 goals) or Islam Slimani (1 goal, 2 assists). In all, six of his players have already shaken the opponents' nets during the competition.
Senegal, even if it draws (13.8 times per game, against 12.7) and frame more (4.8 against 4.2), has scored eight goals so far: three for the only Sadio Mané ( including one on penalty), four for four other players (Gueye, Sarr, Keita, Krepin Diatta), and eighth on a goal by Dylan Bronn of Tunisia.
For Senegal, better control of the game
Men Aliou Cisse can rely on other assets, including their ability to take control of the game. The Lions were never joined in the game after opening the scoring, unlike Algeria, which Côte d'Ivoire managed to take in overtime (1-1, 4-3 on the tables) and Nigeria was able to doubt in the semifinal (2-1) despite a perfect match start (goal against his camp Troost-Ekong in the 40th).
Senegal has the ability to wean its balloon opponent (56.2% of possession on average, against 51.9% for Algeria). His game is cleaner than the other finalist: he commits fewer fouls (19.8 per game against 22.3), transmits the ball better (80.5% of successful passes against 78.5%) and undergoes fewer shots (8.8 per game versus 10.7).
In defense, the more robust Lions
Since the beginning of the competition, the Senegalese have conceded a single goal, the one scored by Youcef Belaïli during the group stage, against two for Algeria. Symbol of this defensive mastery and the safety of their placement, they tackle less (13.8 per game against 17), earn more their aerial duels (15.7 per game against 13.7) and are less often warned (8 against 10) that the men of Djamel Belmadi.
But the defense of Lions is based on Kalidou Koulibaly. However, the Neapolitan giant (1.95 m) is suspended this Friday night. The Algerian defense also counts an absentee in the person of Nice Youcef Atal. The young side (23), who confirmed his excellent season in Ligue 1 (six goals), suffered a broken collarbone in the quarterfinals.
Duel Mané-Mahrez: the dynamic in favor of the Citizen
It has often been said that tonight's finale will have French accents, with many binational or Ligue 1 players. But the match between the two key players will be marked by British intonations.
Side Senegal, there is Sadio Mané, top scorer of Premier League (22 goals), European champion and vice-champion of England within the Reds of Liverpool. In 480 minutes on Egyptian turf, the 27-year-old left winger scored three goals, plus a assist. And he could have done even stronger if he had not missed two penalties … A grand finale could allow him to position himself in view of the Golden Ball.
Algerian side, Riyad Mahrez scored three goals in 462 minutes of play. Less dribbler (two per game, or half as Mané), the right winger of 28 years has gained momentum during the competition and is now a boss. His stunning free kick in the final seconds of the semifinal against Nigeria (2-1, 90 + 5) put him in the best mood for a grand finale.