The 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar is just around the corner as the action gets started on November 20th. The entire tournament kicks off with the host country Qatar playing against Ecuador at 11 a.m. ET, but ahead of the group stage action, let’s take a closer look at Group A and what each team looks like heading into the tournament.
Qatar will be making their first-ever appearance at the World Cup after they were awarded automatic qualification as the host country. Currently No. 50 in the FIFA World Rankings, they’ll look to make a splash as the underdogs from Group A. The players in their squad all play domestically in Qatar, so you won’t find anyone currently playing in a European top flight league. Almoez Ali will be their most dangerous player, as he’s scored 40 goals in just 83 appearances for Qatar and will look to lead the team to an upset or two as they hope to make it out of the group stage against some extremely formidable competition.
The Netherlands are back in the World Cup after failing to qualify in 2018, which was their first miss since 2002. With players like Liverpool’s Virgil van Dijk, Barcelona’s Memphis Depay, and Manchester City’s Nathan Ake, the No. 8 ranked Netherlands are the favorites to win the group and advance to the knockout round. The Dutch side will look to make another deep run after losing 1-0 to Spain in the 2010 World Cup Final, then narrowly missing out in 2014 as they lost to Argentina in a penalty shootout in the semifinal match. They went on to defeat Brazil 3-0 to secure third place in that 2014 tournament, but they’ll be looking to win their first-ever World Cup trophy this year.
Ranked at No. 18 in the world, Senegal can make a strong case as to why they should be given a higher spot this time around despite this year being just their third World Cup appearance in history. They’re favored to advance to the knockout round behind the Netherlands, and it’s with good reason when they’re led by players like Kalidou Koulibaly, Sadio Mane and Idrissa Gueye. Mane is the nation’s all-time leading scorer with 34 goals in 93 caps and will be looking to lead his team to its second-ever knockout stage appearance.
This is just Ecuador’s fourth-ever appearance in the World Cup, with 2006 being their deepest run as they were eliminated in the round of 16. They’re ranked at No. 44 in the world, but that doesn’t mean they won’t give the other higher-ranked teams in the group a run for their money. They don’t score as many goals as other teams, but their defense has been stellar as they’ve kept a clean sheet in each of their last five matches. The Ecuadorians are led by 32-year-old striker Enner Valencia, who plays for Fenerbahçe in the Turkish Super Lig and has 35 goals through 74 caps for the national team.
DraftKings Sportsbook odds to win Group A
Group A Schedule
Sunday, November 20
Qatar vs. Ecuador, 11 a.m. ET
Monday, November 21
Senegal vs. Netherlands, 11 a.m. ET
Friday, November 25
Qatar vs. Senegal, 8:00 a.m. ET
Netherlands vs Ecuador, 11 a.m. ET
Tuesday, November 29
Qatar vs. Netherlands, 10 a.m. ET
Senegal vs. Ecuador, 10 a.m. ET