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World Cup preview: Algeria faces massive test against Germany

Algeria will have to play its best soccer if it hopes to defeat a strong German team at the World Cup
Algeria's World Cup team is expected to be granted special dispensation from religious leaders for Ramadan

The World Cup has introduced some unfamiliar sports lingo to casual soccer followers, who can now display (or feign) expertise in cocktail party chatter by referring to the strategical tactic of "parking the bus."

The phrase refers to a team, typically outmanned, that brings all troops back on defense in hopes of preventing a goal. That is, by parking a bus in front of the net.

Algeria might have spent the days before its Monday match shopping for a double-decker. There is no wider talent discrepancy on the round-of-16 schedule than Algeria and Germany, and the Algerians will be inclined to lay back and dare the Germans to fight through a thicket of defenders.

Algeria employed the gambit against Belgium, and it worked -- for a while. The Belgians scored in the 70th and 80th minutes to win 2-1.

If the Algerians adopt another ploy, it's because they have scored six goals in Brazil and might believe they can play more assertively. But with Germany's unconventional attack that excludes a traditional striker, the underdogs probably will draw up a defense that calls for all hands on deck -- or on the bus.

Two more popular story lines linked to the match are interesting but overly amplified.

The revenge aspect has been cited in connection to West Germany pre-arranging an outcome beneficial to it and an opponent that kept Algeria from advancing out of group play. But that shameful chapter in World Cup history occurred 32 years ago, before the entire Algerian roster was born. Players likely will be unable to summon motivational outrage.

Another implausible factor is the beginning of the Islamic holy month on Sunday. The Muslim holiday Ramadan is marked by dawn-to-dusk fasting, but the Algerian team was expected to be granted special dispensation from religious leaders on the basis of player safety. So the pre-game meal is expected to be fully attended.

Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times
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