James Cormack (@jamescormack_) previews Ivory Coast v Algeria and provides us with his best bets for Thursday’s AFCON quarter-final by analysing team news, potential line-ups, head-to-head, key stats and facts and more.

  • 2019 Profit & Loss: +0.495pts

Ivory Coast v Algeria Betting Preview, Odds & Tips

  • Date: 11/07/19
  • Time: 17:00
  • Venue: Suez Stadium
  • Channel: Eurosport

The headline quarter-final tie in this year’s AFCON takes place in Suez on Thursday evening as Algeria, who have a 100% record thus far, take on 2x winners the Ivory Coast in what has the makings of a cracker.

Algeria, who came into the tournament as an outsider to win it outright, have looked very impressive so far and certainly look capable of going all the way in Egypt this summer. Their performance against pre-tournament favourites Senegal highlighted the Desert Foxes’ credentials whilst their round of 16 performance against Guinea, where they won 3-0, made a real statement.

I’ve already spoken about the talent within this Algeria squad and for me; their performances aren’t coming as much of a surprise. One man who was superb against Guinea was 21-year-old Ismael Bennacer. The central-midfielder displayed his ability to progress play with the ball at his feet as well as pick up the ball in deeper areas to then break the lines with progressive passes. Bennacer looks like an exciting prospect and has just signed for Italian giants AC Milan, he’s certainly someone to look out for throughout the rest of this tournament as well as the Serie A next season.

I think this is Algeria’s best chance to win an AFCON since they were last victorious in 1990, however, they’ll have a tough task getting past an Ivory Coast side that certainly doesn’t lack firepower.

In the 21st century, the Ivory Coast have been blessed with some phenomenal talent. The likes of Yaya Toure, Didier Drogba, Kolo Toure, Salomon Kalou and now Nicolas Pepe and Wilfried Zaha have all represented (or represent) Les Éléphants in the past decade, but, this ‘golden generation’ has surprisingly achieved very little. One AFCON title in 2015 as well as back-to-back-to-back group stage exits at the World Cup and failing to qualify for Russia 2018 is very disappointing, but, I’m sure that coach Ibrahim Kamara will now be looking at this tournament as a good chance to add some silverware to the talent.

A reason why Ivory Coast fans should be hopeful is because of their deadly attacking force on paper. With Wilfried Zaha (15 G+A’s in the PL in 18/19) and Nicolas Pepe (33 G+A’s in Ligue 1) on the wings and Jonathan Kodija (11 G+A’s for Villa last season) playing as the no.9, you would’ve thought that this Ivory Coast side would’ve been scoring goals for fun. However, this has simply not been the case and we’ve only seen this Ivory Coast side in full flow in just one game so far, against 113th ranked Namibia. They have struggled massively throughout the tournament, scoring just twice in their other three games and they were very fortunate to get past Mali in the previous round with the winner coming from a long ball that bounced over the Mali defence and into the path of Wilfried Zaha who finished under the diving Mali keeper.

Nicolas Pepe is a player that has to find some form for Thursday’s game if the Ivory Coast want to progress. The Lille man had a breakthrough year in Ligue 1 last season and has been subject of strong interest from Europe’s elite this summer, with Lillie valuing the Ivorian at around the £70m mark. We haven’t yet seen the speed, directness, creativity and ability in front of goal this summer of Pepe which is undoubtedly a factor in the Ivory Coast’s struggles, Thursday’s game will be a good time to display the ‘Lille version’ of this incredible talent.

This game is much more than a Riyad Mahrez v Wilfried Zaha battle, these are two well-balanced, well-rounded teams that could both potentially line-up in a 4-2-3-1. Therefore, I’m looking forward to seeing who will get the better of who in their individual battles. For example; Atal v Zaha, Mandi v Kodija, Kessie v Bennacer, Mahrez v Coulibaly, etc. It has the potential to be a riveting contest.

Team News        

It wouldn’t come as a surprise if Nicolas Pepe is dropped to the bench for this one and potentially utilise him as a sub to help him find some form. Serge Aurier is back in contention for this one after he picked up an injury against Morocco on matchday two.

Algeria have no new injury concerns and I’d expect Djamel Belmadi to field a similar starting XI to the one that beat Guinea 3-0 in the last 16.

Potential Ivory Coast Starting XI: Gbohouo, Aurier, Traore, Kanon, Coulibaly, Gbamin, Die, Gradel, Kessie, Zaha, Kodija

Potential Algeria Starting XI: Bolhi, Atal, Mandi, Benlamri, Bensebaini, Guediora, Bennacer, Mahrez, Feghouli, Belaili, Bounedjah

Head To Head

  • All-time: Ivory Coast-8, Draw-7, Algeria-8.

Key Stats & Facts

  • Ivory Coast and Algeria have seen BTTS in their last 3 meetings (all competitions).
  • Ivory Coast are unbeaten in 3 of their last 4 matches (AFCON).
  • Algeria are the only team left in the tournament with a 100% record.
  • These sides were ranked as the 11th and 12th best African sides coming into the tournament according to FIFA’s world rankings. Ivory Coast ranked 62nd whilst Algeria ranked 68th.
  • Algeria’s Adam Ounas is currently level with four other players at the top of the golden boot race, he’s scored three times so far.
  • Wilfried Zaha is the Ivory Coast’s leading scorer with two and scored the winner in his sides 1-0 win over Mali in the round of 16.
  • Despite notching up 23 goals and 11 assists for Lille last season, Nicolas Pepe is yet to register a goal or an assist at this tournament.
  • Algeria are one-time winners of this tournament whilst the Ivory Coast have been victorious twice, most recently in 2015.
  • A win for Algeria on Thursday would see them reach only their second AFCON semi-final since they won the competition in 1990.

Betting Odds

  • Ivory Coast 3/1
  • Draw 21/10
  • Algeria 5/4

The Verdict

The Ghana v Tunisia game showed how a side can turn their form around in an instant. The Ivory Coast remind me a little bit of how Tunisia were perceived going into their round of 16 game; under performing, finding it hard to score and now underdogs. With the attacking talent they have, there’s no doubt that their form could u-turn similar to that of the Eagles of Carthage. I don’t think they’ll have enough to beat this impressive Algeria side in 90 mins, but, I do fancy BTTS within that time period. Despite their woes, the Ivory Coast have scored in all but one of their games and are a side that have the potential to do serious damage. Whilst Algeria are yet to concede, I expect  Les Elephants to come out rejuvenated and looking to prove a point, similar to what Tunisia did against Ghana on Monday.

Another bet I like is for the half-time score to be a draw. This is a bet that has come in on a number of occasions throughout the tournament and I expect it to happen once more on Thursday. 5 of the 8 last 16 games were draws at half-time whilst the Ivory Coast have scored on just one occasion in the first half in this competition. I expect the Ivory Coast to take the game to the Desert Foxes on Thursday and the Algerians will likely have to play with a little more caution than in previous games where they’ve been able to open up the opposition in the opening 45 minutes.

The final bet I like is for either team to win on penalties at 4/1. In the knockout stages so far, 3 of the 8 games were decided on penalties whilst only one game was won by more than a 1 goal margin and that was Algeria’s 3-0 win over Guinea. The games have been very tight and I think this will continue in Suez on Thursday. Both sides have great attacking talent as well as pretty stout defences, especially Algeria. We’ve seen a few upsets already in this competition and I’m not ready to write off the Ivory Coast just yet. I see this one going the distance, but, who wins in the shootout is simply a lottery.

Recommended Bets

  • 1pt – BTTS – 6/5 (Sky Bet)
  • 2pts – Draw at half time – 19/20 (Red Zone)
  • 1pt – Either team to win on penalties – 4/1 (Sky Bet)