Ivory Coast vs Algeria | Sunday 01 February | Malabo | 21:00
The tournament favourites will clash in the most anticipated match of the quarter-finals. These sides would have preferred meeting each other in the latter stages of the tournament, but Algeria failed to win their group having finished second to Ghana, while Ivory Coast managed to top Group D despite raking up just five points.
To Win (90mins)
Ivory Coast 15/10
Ivory Coast 15/20
Max Gradel scored a superb first-half goal as Ivory Coast beat Cameroon 1-0 on Wednesday to progress to the knockout stages and eliminate their opponents. It was the Elephants’ first three points of this year’s showpiece after drawing their first two games 1-1 against Guinea and Mali. Both teams went into their final matches with all to play for, with all four nations in the group locked on two points after their previous clashes had all ended in 1-1 draws. Ivory Coast managed to break the draw trend of the pool and ended the group stages as the only Group D team who managed to take a victory. Guinea and Mali, who played out a 1-1 draw in Mongomo, faced the drawing of lots to decide who progressed to face Group C winners Ghana on Sunday, Guinea the fortunate party. Yaya Toure once again failed to stand out and drive his team, as he usually does on a weekly basis for Manchester City. The African Player of the Year will be looking to have more of an impact against the number one ranked African side. Ivory Coast will welcome back star winger Gervinho after he was suspended for two matches for hitting out at a Guinea player. Gervinho has been the focal point of the Ivorians attack since Didier Drogba was at his best for the national team and his pace and trickery could surely expose the Algerian defence.
Riyad Mahrez and Nabil Bentaleb were on target as Algeria beat Senegal 2-0 in the Africa Cup of Nations to secure a quarter-final place. It was Algeria’s second win in the group stages which took them to six points, but they had to settle for second spot by virtue of the head-to-head as Ghana, who also finished on the same number of points, beat them. Leicester City winger Mahrez capitalized in the eleventh minute as a Senegal side, sent out in a reshaped 3-5-2 formation, struggled badly in the face of Algeria's vibrant attacking play. Senegal muscled their way back into the contest and controlled much of the second half before Bentaleb beautifully converted Sofiane Feghouli's pass from long range with eight minutes remaining to see his nation through as group runners-up. Algeria head coach Christian Gourcuff will depend on Dinamo Zagreb striker, El Arbi Hillel Soudani, to replace Sporting Lisbon’s Islam Slimani. The Desert Foxes are missing the services of Slimani due to injury after he picked up a muscle problem in Algeria’s second game of the tournament. Talented midfielder Yacine Brahimi is one of Algeria's primary sources of creativity and the FC Porto man will look to cause the Ivory Coast defence all sorts of problems from the get-go.
VERDICT: Ivory Coast To Qualify 15/20
These sides met in the 2010 and 2013 AFCONs with both matches ending in 2-2 draws. Ivory Coast aren’t at their best but they showed their steel to beat Cameroon, and with Gervinho back in the team they will look better going forward. Algeria were lucky to beat South Africa after being outplayed for most of the match and were also far from dangerous when they went down to Ghana in their second group game. Ivory Coast are tipped to oust the north Africans and advance to the semi-finals, but perhaps after extra-time. Take the Ivorians To Qualify at 15/20.