Bitter history to spice up contest

Bitter history to spice up contest

Favourites Germany take on Algeria in the backdrop of the 1982 ‘Shame of Gijon’ episode

If revenge is a plate best served cold, Algeria will hope to dish it out to Germany in their World Cup Round of 16 match on Monday, 32 years after one of the most shameful games in the tournament's history.

In all likelihood, however, a powerful Germany side will  bring the Desert Foxes' run to an end and deprive them of retribution and further glory. But it might not be easy. The Germans, champions in 1954, 1974 and 1990, arrived in Brazil as one of the favourites.

They showed their credentials by demolishing Portugal 4-0 in their opening game but stumbled slightly against Ghana, drawing 2-2.

They then dismissed the United States with a strong performance that still left some room for improvement, although Thomas Mueller showed again what a lethal striker he is. Algeria, masterminded by the wily French Bosnian coach Vahid Halilhodzic and carrying the hopes of the Arab world with them, have impressed with their tenacity and ball skills.

After losing their opening match to Belgium, they overwhelmed South Korea 4-2 in an epic match in Porto Alegre. In their crucial final group game, a headed goal by Islam Slimani brought them back from 1-0 down against Russia to secure a draw, sending them through to the last 16 and their fans into ecstasy. Algeria have beaten Germany in the World Cup before, defeating the then-West Germany 2-1 in Spain in 1982. But what followed was a travesty.

After also defeating Chile, Algeria were on the cusp of qualifying for the knockouts. West Germany met Austria in the final group game with a narrow German victory enough for both teams to go through and see Algeria eliminated.

After an early German goal, the two kicked the ball around aimlessly without trying to score again. The cynical display caused worldwide outrage and has gone down in the annals of soccer infamy as "the Shame of Gijon". So, the stage is set for a grand show in Porto Alegre's Beira Rio stadium on Monday, with the winner's reward a quarter-final against France or Nigeria.

Germany can expect a warm welcome in the Rio Grande do Sul capital - the state has a significant population of German descent from immigration in the 19th Century. While satisfied with Germany's performance against the United States, coach Joachim Loew signalled they needed to tighten up in several aspects of their play.

Still, with four goals, Mueller was been in sparkling form this tournament. The German machine must be favoured to accomplish their mission. Algeria will hope Porto Alegre will be propitious for them after their historic battle here against South Korea, when their four goals made then the highest-scoring African side in a single World Cup game.

This is also the first time two African sides have reached the last 16 - African champions Nigeria being the other. 

Podolski injured

Germany will be without winger Lukas Podolski after he picked up a thigh muscle injury in their last group game, Loew said. Tests on Saturday showed he would not be available for their first knockout game in the tournament. 

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