Africa reconvenes competitive international games for the first time in more than a year this week, with reigning champions Algeria hosting Zimbabwe at the Mustapha Tchaker stadium in a 2022 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier.
The Desert Foxes, who clinched last year's continental title, made a bright start to the qualifying campaign last year and currently sit top of Group H.
They brushed Zambia aside 5-0 in the opening game at home before seeing off Botswana 1-0 away in the second encounter to secure all six available points. Zimbabwe are just two points adrift after a win and a draw.
This will be the southern African nation's first official fixture in 12 months, while Algeria participated in a pair of international friendlies last month against Nigeria and Mexico.
Algeria vs Zimbabwe Head-To-Head
Interestingly, these sides have met only six times in history, and honors are almost even, with Algeria winning twice and losing just once to Zimbabwe. Three fixtures between them have ended in draws.
January 2017 was the last time they played each other, a 2-2 draw in an Africa Cup of Nations group game.
Algeria Form Guide (all competitions): W-W-W-W-D
Zimbabwe Form Guide (all competitions): L-D-L-D-W
Algeria vs Zimbabwe Team News
Algeria coach Djamel Belmadi has left out Zinedine Ferhat, Abdeldjalil Medioub and Maxime Spano Rahou, but will be bolstered by the return of Youcef Atal, Djamel Benlamri and Adam Ounas after the trio missed last month's international friendlies. Nimes Olympique striker Karim Aribi has received his first international call-up.
Unavailable: Zinedine Ferhat, Abdeldjalil Medioub and Maxime Spano Rahou
Zimbabwe's new manager Zdravko Logarusic has recalled Adam Chicksen, Tino Kadewere, and Kuda Mahachi to the squad, but left out forwards Charlton Mashumba and Evans Katema as well as goalkeeper Tendai Jirira, Tatenda Mukuruva, Marshall Munetsi, Butholezwe Ncube, and Willington Taderera.
Unavailable: Tendai Jirira, Tatenda Mukuruva, Marshall Munetsi, Butholezwe Ncube, Willington Taderera, Charlton Mashumba, and Evans Katema.
Algeria vs Zimbabwe Predicted XI
Algeria (4-2-3-1): Rais M'Bolhi; Reda Halaimia, Aissa Mandi, Mehdi Tahrat, Ramy Bensebaini; Adlene Guedioura, Ismael Bennacer; Riyad Mahrez, Sofiane Feghouli, Yacine Brahimi; Baghdad Bounedjah.
Zimbabwe (4-3-3): Elvis Chipezeze; Tendayi Darikwa, Alec Mudimu, Teenage Hadebe, Jordan Zemura; Marvellous Nakamba, Kudakwashe Mahachi, Knowledge Musona; Khama Billiat, Tino Kadewere, Macauley Bonne.
Algeria vs Zimbabwe Prediction
Zimbabwe might have punched above their weight by defeating former African champions Zambia last year, but Algeria are a totally different kettle of fish.
They have some really good options in attack such as Brahimi, Bounedjah, and Manchester City star Mahrez, and the Algerians have not lost in their last 20 games, winning 15.
Barring a titanic collapse, this should be another comfortable win for the AFCON title holders.
Prediction: Algeria 3-1 Zimbabwe
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