World Cup Group A Preview

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World Cup 2022
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Group A of the World Cup will be in action from November 21st to November 29th in Qatar. The group consists of Ecuador, Netherlands, Qatar and Senegal, with the top two advancing to the Round of 16.

Although only two of the 32 teams at the World Cup were lower in the Rankings at the time of the draw, Qatar were in Pot 1 as hosts. This also ensured they would be in Group A.

Their luck ended there though, as they were handed an incredibly difficult draw. Netherlands, the 10th best team per the rankings, emerged from Pot 2. They did not qualify in 2018 but reached the semi-finals and final in the two editions prior to that.

Reigning African champions, Senegal, are the strongest of the third seeds. They will fancy their chances of qualifying from the Group Stage for the first time since 2002.

Ecuador were the third best team from Pot 4 prior to Australia, Costa Rica and Wales confirming their places via the play-offs. Any team which emerges from South America’s brutal qualifying process deserves respect.

CONTENTS

World Cup Group A Table, Fixtures & Odds

TeamPWDLGFGAGDPts
Netherland211031+24
Ecuador211031+24
Qatar200215-40
Senegal21013003

Group A Match Schedule

DateMatchTime (ET)Stadium
Mon, Nov. 21Senegal vs. Netherlands5 a.m.Al Thumama Stadium
Mon, Nov. 21Qatar vs. Ecuador11 a.m.Al Bayt Stadium
Fri, Nov. 25Qatar vs. Senegal8 a.m.Al Thumama Stadium
Fri, Nov. 25Netherlands vs. Ecuador11 a.m.Khalifa Int'l Stadium
Tue, Nov. 29Ecuador vs. Senegal10 a.m.Al Bayt Stadium
Tue, Nov. 29Netherlands vs. Qatar10 a.m.Khalifa Int'l Stadium

The four teams play each other once, earning three points for a win, one for a draw and none for a loss. The top two teams in each group advance to the knockout-phase, with placings settled by points, then goal difference and goals scored.

The first match in Group A kicks off the tournament and is the most exciting fixture in this section. Senegal vs. Netherlands will probably determine which nation finishes top of this group.

Qatar will hope their home advantage proves decisive. They host Ecuador, Senegal and finally Netherlands.

World Cup Group A Odds

TeamGroup WinnerQualify From Group
Netherlands-450-20000
Ecuador+333-300
Senegal+1400+175
QatarN/AN/A
Odds Provided by BetMGM - Subject to Change

Ignore that Qatar were in Pot 1. The teams are ordered in the betting as per their places in the Rankings.

Netherlands are red-hot -1000 favourites to qualify for the next phase. They are expected to win their opening match against Senegal (and are priced -145 to do so). If so, their path for first place in the section should prove straightforward.

Senegal are next in line for qualification at -135. While not a value pick it would be a surprise if they do not get through the group.

Behind the favourites we have Ecuador at +100 and Qatar at +525. Teams usually need five points to finish runners up and it’s not likely either of these teams will collect that many.

World Cup Group A Draw

Qatar

Qatar will be appearing at the World Cup for the first time in their history by virtue of hosting the tournament.

As they did not have to play any qualifying matches it’s hard to get a read on their competitive form. They have risen in the Rankings in recent years but without troubling decent opposition too often.

Last year Qatar were well beaten in friendlies by Ireland, Portugal and Serbia (twice) and lost to USA in the semi-finals of the Gold Cup. They did beat Bulgaria and drew with Slovenia in March, though both are at least 21 places lower in the rankings than their three opponents here

Ecuador are the only one they’ve faced previously. They won the most recent meeting too, in 2018. However, as the South Americans finished with nine men, Qatar’s 4-3 victory won’t mean much here.

Spaniard Felix Sanchez has been in charge since July 2017, with the aim of building towards this World Cup. He will look to Almoez Ali of Al Duhail for the goals they need, as he was Qatar’s top scorer at least years Arab Cup.

Winger Akram Afif was voted third best player at that tournament and scored and assisted in the Bulgaria win. He could be crucial to their slender hopes too.

Netherlands

No team has featured in more World Cup finals without winning one than Netherlands. Beaten finalists in 1974, 1978 and 2010, the Dutch might not harbour realistic hopes of going that far but should stroll through this group.

Louis van Gaal’s side lost their opening qualification match but were otherwise unbeaten. Their only other defeat since the start of last year occurred at Euro 2020, where Matthijs de Ligt’s red card contributed to a 2-0 loss against Czech Republic.

Having never faced Qatar or Senegal, Netherlands do have experience of Ecuador. However, as the last meeting was eight years ago there won’t be too many men who featured that day playing on November 29.

One man likely to is Memphis Depay. The Barcelona forward could be a decent value option for the Golden Boot. He was the joint-top scorer in UEFA qualifying, with 12 goals, and has a better than one-in-two record in international soccer.

At the other end, Virgil van Dijk is Netherlands’ key man. The Liverpool centre-back is widely regarded as the best centre-back in the world and missed the last European Championship through injury. His presence will make a big difference.

Senegal

Whatever happens here, 2022 will be the greatest year in Senegal’s footballing history. They became champions of Africa for the first time by winning the Cup of Nations in February.

Sadio Mane scored the winning penalty in their shootout victory over Egypt that day, and repeated the trick against the same opponent to secure qualification. The Bayern Munich new boy will clearly carry the greatest threat for the Senegalese.

However, the other teams in Group A would be wise to keep an eye on Famara Diedhiou too, as he was their top scorer in qualifying. At the back, Edouard Mendy ensures Senegal are hard to beat. The Chelsea man is undoubtedly one of the best goalkeepers around.

As with Qatar and Netherlands, Senegal have only faced Ecuador previously. They will hope their victory from 2002 provides a good omen. It was their last match before they made their World Cup finals debut, and they reached the quarter-finals.

There is a definite chance that manager Aliou Cisse – who was captain of the team 20 years ago – guides them to the last eight once again.

Ecuador

Ecuador deserve tremendous credit for emerging from the CONMEBOL World Cup qualification process. Argentina and Brazil were never likely to miss out, so that left only two further automatic berths.

And despite a lower Ranking than Colombia, Peru and Chile, Gustavo Alfaro’s side finished above them in the standings. However, they only won seven of their 18 matches.

More pertinently, they were victorious just twice away from home. It’s not unreasonable to think they can beat Qatar but their other opponents could provide too stern a test for the Ecuadorians to advance.

The one time they did previously reach the Round of 16 occurred in Germany in 2006. On that occasion they faced England, and that could be their fate if they qualify from this group.

While their defensive record probably rules that possibility out, they do carry a goal threat. DC United forward Michael Estrada was the joint-sixth top scorer in South American qualifying. His six goals were backed up by four from Enner Valencia and three from Gonzalo Plata. With other players contributing 14, only Brazil scored more.

World Cup Group A Favorites

The odds from BetMGM make clear that Netherlands are strong favorites to top this section. They are the only team in the group who are odds-on to finish first. 

Senegal should join them in the knockout phase. The African champions’ odds of +350 to top the group look tempting too. The battle between Senegal and Netherlands to lead Group A could effectively be decided by their opening day clash.

If it’s a draw, it could come down to which team beats Qatar by the most goals. However, as the Dutch play them last and will know what they need, the scheduling favours them.

There is no value in backing Ecuador or the hosts to top Group A. The key thing to remember is only one of the group winners at the previous World Cup got fewer than six points. It’s hard to see how either of these countries can hit that mark. Ecuador should beat Qatar but another win looks beyond them.

Teams That Advance From World Cup Group A

The qualifiers from this group will be paired with the top two teams in Group B. The odds imply that England will finish first in that section with the USMNT behind them.

The winners of Group A will play on December 3, and if it is Netherlands vs. USA as the market suggests, the Dutch will be favourites. The following day looks likely to be England vs. Senegal, and that would probably spell the end of the road for the African side.

Should the Group A top two reach the quarter-finals, then they will likely face Argentina and France respectively. Both will have a very tough route in the knockout phase.

World Cup Group A Favorites FAQ

What are the World Cup groups?

Group A: Netherlands, Senegal, Ecuador, Qatar

Group B: England, USA, Wales, Iran

Group C: Argentina, Mexico, Poland, Saudi Arabia

Group D: France, Denmark, Australia, Tunisia

Group E: Spain, Germany, Japan, Costa Rica

Group F: Belgium, Croatia, Morocco, Canada

Group G: Brazil, Switzerland, Serbia, Cameroon

Group H: Portugal, Uruguay, Ghana, Korea Republic

How many teams will there be in Qatar in 2022?

Thirty-two countries will be taking part in the tournament. This has been the number of finalists since France 1998, but it will rise for the 2026 World Cup in Canada, Mexico and the United States.

Who will win the Golden Boot?

The favorites to be top scorer at the World Cup are a set of very familiar names. England’s Harry Kane (+700) leads the way, ahead of Kylian Mbappe (+800), Karim Benzema (+1100) and Neymar (+1200).

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