Algeria's Mahrez & Slimani taking Leicester to next level
After enjoying the fruits of Riyad Mahrez’s labors for the past three seasons, Leicester has now brought in Islam Slimani (pictured) in a bid to get the best out of both players
When casual fans are asked to name African footballing superpowers, countries such as Nigeria, Cameroon and, more recently, Ivory Coast are generally among those who come to mind.
But, while those traditional World Cup participants struggle to move on from their respective golden generations, there is a new name who could well make a mark on the world stage in the coming years.
Soccer Twitter reacts to debate Algeria possess one of the brightest young squads in world football and, having taken Germany to extra-time in the last-16 of the 2014 World Cup, the side is likely to head to Russia in less than two years’ time as the team to beat from the second largest continent in the world.
That fact has not been lost on Leicester City, which – after enjoying the fruits of Riyad Mahrez’s labors for the past three seasons – has now brought in Islam Slimani in a bid to get the best out of both players.
Slimani has already revealed that Mahrez played a big role in getting him to the King Power Stadium, and the hope is the two will combine to devastating effect.
But, with the Foxes stuttering already in the defense of the Premier League crown, it is in the Champions League where their partnership seems most likely to come to fruition.
Mahrez has already showcased his aptitude for the big occasion by putting in a man-of-the-match performance in Leicester’s first ever match in Europe’s premier club competition against Club Brugge while Slimani’s two goals against Burnley on his domestic debut point to a player who is already settling well into life in the east Midlands.
Between them the pair have scored 29 goals in 69 international appearances and against Porto it is they – along with Jamie Vardy – who Ranieri will be looking to in a bid to put the Portuguese side to the sword and in the process put the English champion on the cusp of the knockout stages after just two matches.
Slimani has fond memories of taking on the Portuguese outfit having scored six goals in as many games against it during his time with Sporting.
Such a record earned him the nickname ‘Dragon slayer’ in Lisbon, and Ranieri will likely be looking to the club’s record signing for clues as to how to break down Nuno’s side.
Porto, meanwhile, arrives in Leicester with an Algerian star of its own in the shape of Yacine Brahimi.
The winger has been linked with Liverpool and Everton among others in the last 12 months and, along with Mahrez, allows his national side to play with the kind of width that other sides could only dream of.
The 26-year-old will provide the main threat to the home side on Tuesday evening, and an impressive showing may finally earn him the Premier League move he has seemed likely to make for some time now.
There will certainly be an Algerian flavor to proceedings at the King Power and, if the performances of their star names at club level are anything to go by, supporters may have to get used to seeing the side challenge the established order in tournaments to come.
For now, Leicester will just be hoping its own Algerian axis proves too strong for one of the strongest sides Portugal has to offer.