The 2022 World Cup begins in just 8 days, and 32 teams enter with dreams of eventually lifting the trophy as world champions on December 18th. As we get ready for the tournament to begin, we will bring you previews from each of the 8 groups, with which teams we expect to compete for the title and which may be heading home after the group stage.
We begin our previews with Group A, which is an interesting group that appears to have 2 teams that could outpace the others. However, it also contains hosts Qatar, who have been preparing for 12 years for this moment on the world’s biggest soccer stage. With only 1 host ever failing to advance to the knockout stage (South Africa 2010), the pressure is on for Qatar to compete. However, Ecuador, Senegal, and the Netherlands are all teams that can make a run to make this a challenging group.
November 20th - Qatar vs. Ecuador, 11:00am ET/8:00am PT
November 21st - Senegal vs. Netherlands, 11:00am ET/8:00am PT
November 25th - Qatar vs. Senegal, 8:00am ET/5:00am PT; Netherlands vs. Ecuador, 11:00am ET/8:00am PT
November 29th - Ecuador vs. Senegal, 10:00am ET/7:00am PT; Netherlands vs. Qatar, 10:00am ET/7:00am PT
Qatar enters the 2022 World Cup as the hosts and with the most pressure of anyone in Group A, as they seek to continue the tradition of the host nation advancing to the knockout stage. They have prepared by playing a variety of good teams from all around the world as they shape a squad that won the Asian Cup as recently as 2019. The Maroon will look to turn some heads with their play as they play in their first ever World Cup, led by captain Hassan Al-Haydos and head coach Felix Sanchez, and will try to get out of the group with their home fans behind them.
FIFA Ranking: 50
Odds of Winning Group: Dark Horse
One to Watch: Almoez Ali is tied for the all-time goalscoring record, scoring 42 goals in 85 appearances. He will look to spur the Qatari attack and put some goals in the back of the net.
Ecuador’s road to the World Cup has been shaky and marred by scandal, as they qualified 4th out of CONMEBOL and have survived several challenges by Chile that they used an ineligible player. With that out of the way, minus a 3 point deduction for 2026 World Cup qualifying, Ecuador can turn their focus to being back in the World Cup for the first time since 2014. While they’ve dropped off as their golden generation starts to fade into retirement, head coach Gustavo Alfaro has rebuilt the squad using some youthful exuberance in order to get to this point.
FIFA Ranking: 44
Odds of Winning: Dark Horse
One to Watch: Enner Valencia is the captain and most experienced player on the roster, and he will be counted on to score goals for La Tricolor.
Senegal is a very dangerous team that can go as far as one of their greatest ever stars will be able to carry them. That star is Said Mané, but questions about whether he will be ready for the opener remain as he was injured earlier this week. The Lions of Teranga can beat anyone at anytime, and they can be a team that could easily win Group A. They exited in the group stage during the 2018 World Cup, but were runners-up in the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations and won the 2021 edition of the tournament. Accordingly, they are a team that many think can do some damage in this tournament.
FIFA Ranking: 18
Odds of Winning: In The Running
One to Watch: Édouard Mendy is one of the best goalkeepers in the world, and if he’s hot, the sky’s the limit for Senegal.
Rounding out Group A are the prohibitive favorites to win the group, the Oranje. They have a healthy mix of veteran experience and young talent, and it’s been working quite well for them. Head coach Louis van Gaal wants his team to push the issue and keep opponents on their heels while also maintaining possession, and it has turned the Dutch into a contender for the World Cup trophy.
FIFA Ranking: 8
Odds of Winning: Favorite
One to Watch: Denzel Dumfries looks poised to have a breakout tournament on the defense, but he will also be a factor on the offensive attack.
Who will advance from Group A? What matches are most interesting to you? Let us know in the comments.