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African Nations Cup Final: Algeria the smart bet to silence Senegal

Manchester City and Algeria winger Riyad Mahrez
Riyad Mahrez celebrates scoring his injury-time free-kick winner against Nigeria in the semi-final

After securing a profit on the tournament James Eastham runs through the betting options as the continent's top two teams go head-to-head in Cairo on Friday night...

"Djamel Belmadi's side have been superb from the outset: they've had the best attack, with 12 goals scored, and been the tournament's best team overall."

Best Bet: Back Algeria in the Draw No Bet market @ 2.0421/20

Senegal vs Algeria
Friday 19 July, 20:00 BST
Live on Eurosport 2

Top two sides ready to face-off

If you followed this column since the very start and backed our pre-tournament tips then you're sitting pretty. In our ante-post look at the best wagers on the Africa Cup of Nations way back in mid-June we suggested you back Senegal at 7.413/2 and Algeria at 14.013/1. Those that took our advice will make a healthy profit on Friday night's showdown regardless of who comes out on top.

Another great thing about the game is that the best two teams have made it to the final. Pre-tournament second favourites Senegal may not have caught fire the way some people expected them to but have been extremely difficult to beat thanks to a rock-solid defence: the Lions of Teranga have kept five clean sheets in six games, conceding just once in 570 minutes of football.

Their chances of keeping a clean sheet this time, however, are reduced by the fact that star defender Kalidou Koulibaly is suspended. Another concern for Senegal is that the only team to have scored against them in the tournament are fellow finalists Algeria, who ran out 1-0 winners when the teams met in their Group C clash on June 27.

Belmadi's players have upper hand

That victory in the group stage may or may not give Algeria a psychological edge here, but it's one of several displays that have underlined Algeria's status as the best team in the tournament. Djamel Belmadi's side have been superb from the outset: they won Group C in fine style before producing further fine performances in the knockout stage.

There's great balance and quality throughout the Algeria side but their strong point is their attack, the best in the tournament. This may end up being the point of difference on the day: Algeria have scored 12 goals in six matches (Senegal have scored only eight), and had more variety, quality and class in the final third than any other team. At various times, Riyad Mahrez, Youcef Belaili and Adam Ounas have all been excellent.

Given that Algeria won 1-0 when the sides first met in the competition and given that the Fennecs have generally been the better of these two teams over the past month in Egypt, it's a surprise Algeria are slight underdogs. Senegal are 1.9620/21 in the Winner 2019 market, while Algeria are 2.0421/20. In the Match Odds market - which designates what the result will be after 90 minutes - Senegal are 2.9215/8, with Algeria 3.02/1 and The Draw 3.02/1.

Let your ante-post tips ride

Algeria are a smarter bet than Senegal to lift the trophy, and Algeria and The Draw are the appealing selections in the Match Odds market. Alternatively, you can use the big price on an Algeria triumph to back Belmadi's team in other ways: for example, at 2.0421/20 on the Draw No Bet market. With this selection, you'll get your stakes back if the game ends all-square and make a profit if Algeria win in 90 minutes.

If, however, you've been on Senegal and Algeria from the start, then simply sit back and enjoy what should be a tremendous match in the knowledge you're in a win-win situation.

James’ tournament P/L

Staked: 49pts
Returned: +55.10pts
P/L: +6.10pts (12% ROI)

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