The 32nd Africa Cup of Nations concludes on Friday in Cairo and Algeria look the team to beat as they aim for a second title by beating a star-studded Senegal.
The pair have reached the showpiece in contrasting style but having already beaten their opponents in the group stages, the Desert Foxes should be confident of glory.
Djamel Belmadi’s side may have required a dramatic stoppage-time winner in the semi-finals against Nigeria. However, they have otherwise impressed in Egypt, netting 12 goals, four more than Senegal.
While the Lions of Teranga have a forward line of Sadio Mane, Ismaila Sarr and Keita Balde to call upon, they have lacked cohesion so far in the tournament.
Star defender Kalidou Koulibaly is also suspended for the match at the Cairo International Stadium and while likely replacement Salif Sane has proved his class in the Bundesliga with Schalke, it may not be enough.
It was Riyad Mahrez who scored the decisive goal against the Nigerians, firing in a late free-kick to again prove he is the man for the big moment.
The winger was a surprise selection for Manchester City’s final-day game against Brighton but shone on that occasion and seems to be riding a wave of confidence.
While matching Odion Ighalo’s five goals for the tournament is unlikely, it would be no surprise if Mahrez again makes the difference.
Do not expect a cracker in Cairo, with Senegal yet to play a game in which both sides have scored. That run includes the group match in which Mohamed Belaili netted the only goal to give Algeria the victory on June 27.
Only one of the last seven AFCON finals have seen both teams score and three of those have gone to penalties.
Another tight match beckons but while Senegal have the star power, Algeria’s ability to create chances means they should pick up a second continental title.
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