This is a tough one to call. Senegal is slightly favourite in the odds, but just slightly. Then again, Algeria has already beaten Senegal in the pool stage with 1-0. If the semi-finals are a harbringer for what is coming, this will be a match exciting until the last minute. With a lot of finals going to penalties (2 out of the last 4), this ‘last minute’ could be taken very literally!
Senegal: from runner up in group C to finalist
The desert foxes put a stop to the rise of Senegal after beating Tanzania with two to zero and Kenya with three to zero. But this was a mere delay, since Senegal kept on rising afterwards. And not surprisingly, with Liverpool star Sadio Mane and Idrissa Gueye from Everton in their midst. It is the first time in seventeen years that Senegal reaches the finals again; it’s a team that grows in the tournament. Hard to break that flow!
Algeria: uncontested and full of confidence
Besides winning from Senegal in the group stage, Kenya and Tanzania got the axe as well. The do or die rounds were more difficult for the desert foxes, with a difficult game against Ivory Coast that ended in a 1-1 shoot-out. And the game against Nigeria, where Riyad Mahrez needed a free kick in injury time to deliver the first participation of Algeria in the finals since 1990.
Algeria has been putting the most impressive football on the pitch over the whole tournament, with Mahrez and Napoli midfielder Adam Ounas scoring three times each, while Galatasaray playmaker Sofiane Feghouli has also made his mark on the team.
With the winner so hard to predict and so many games going into overtime (penalties) this tournament, we feel a small bet on Algeria winning through penalties can be very profitable. Though it is a gamble!