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CAF Champions League preview: Étoile du Sahel (TUN) vs. CR Belouizdad (ALG)

A matchup between North African powerhouse clubs will start up the opening day of the 2021-22 CAF Champions League group stage as Algeria’s CR Belouizdad travel to Sousse to take on Tunisia’s Étoile du Sahel. The circumstances are not ideal for the hosts, who last competed in a competitive match in late November in the Tunisia Ligue 1 Professionelle and struggled mightily in league play. On the other side, CRB are in peak form in Algerian football and currently sit at the top of the Ligue 1 Professionelle midway through the Algerian domestic campaign.

Étoile du Sahel will be led by former France national team manager Roger Lemerre, an 80-year-old tactician who has been charged with leading the club back to glory in his third spell with the club. The club’s fortunes have fallen greatly this season, with the club’s form dipping so severely that they are out of contention for CAF club competition next season and will have to take part in a relegation battle due to finishing 7th out of eight teams in the league’s opening stage. However, three points will be expected and Lemerre has had an extended period to prepare his team for Friday’s monumental clash.

CRB are in excellent form this season and are favorites to repeat as champions in Algeria’s top division. Le Chabab are led by a veteran manager of their own in Brazilian Marcos Paquetá, who has spent most of his time coaching in the Arab World the last twenty years with stops in Egypt, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Oman and Bahrain. Paquetá will have a balanced attack to count on that includes Hichem Khalfallah and Kheiredine Merzougui as well as veterans in the back like defender Chemseddine Nessakh. The Algerian champions have competitive match fitness on their side and will be determined to snatch at least a point in Tunisia.

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