Group A in the FIFA World Cup is set, and host nation Qatar will be left ruing its luck given the names that emerged from the three other pots.
Despite being ranked No. 51, Qatar were included with the top-seeded teams in Pot 1 as is customary for host nations at FIFA World Cup events. The hosts were also automatically added to Group A, as is also tradition.
Then came the teams from the other groups: The Netherlands, who missed the last World Cup but are back and fielding a strong team, were the team drawn from Pot 2. Also in the group are Senegal, the AFCON 2022 champions, making this a difficult draw for the hosts. And finally, Ecuador were drawn from Pot 4 to round out the group.
By FIFA rankings, Qatar drew the second-toughest Pot 2 team, the toughest Pot 3 team, and the second-toughest Pot 4 team. Brutal!
WORLD CUP DRAW BREAKDOWNS:
Group A | Group B | Group C | Group D
Group E | Group F | Group G | Group H
For the two teams that advance from Group A, they would match up with a team from Group B in the Round of 16.
|Sun, Nov. 20||Qatar vs. Ecuador||11 a.m.||Al Bayt Stadium|
|Mon, Nov. 21||Senegal vs. Netherlands||11 a.m.||Al Thumama Stadium|
|Fri, Nov. 25||Qatar vs. Senegal||8 a.m.||Al Thumama Stadium|
|Fri, Nov. 25||Netherlands vs. Ecuador||11 a.m.||Khalifa Int’l Stadium|
|Tues, Nov. 29||Netherlands vs. Qatar||10 a.m.||Al Bayt Stadium|
|Tues, Nov. 29||Ecuador vs. Senegal||10 a.m.||Khalifa Int’l Stadium|
The four teams selected into the group will play a round-robin format with each nation facing the other three. Group standings are based on points from those three group-stage matches — three points for a win, one for a draw, none for a loss.
The top two teams from each group based on total points advance to the single-game knockouts. If teams are tied on points, goal difference is the first tiebreaker followed by goals scored. If teams are also tied in those categories another set of tiebreakers is applied.
MORE: Are World Cup stadiums in Qatar air-conditioned?
As the 2022 World Cup host, Qatar is determined to put on a show for football fans around the globe, and that includes on the field.
The small Gulf nation with a population under three million has invested significantly in its national team program over the last decade since it won the right to host the tournament back in Dec. 2010. Since then, the cash outlay on player development, coaching and infrastructure has paid off with a No. 51 FIFA World Ranking, up from 112th. It also resulted in a first Asian Cup triumph in 2019.
With ex-Barcelona youth coach Felix Sanchez leading the way since 2017, Qatar has developed an attack-minded, entertaining playing style which is sure to win over fans no matter how far they advance in its first World Cup appearance.
Louis van Gaal — in his third spell in the Netherlands hot seat — will be hoping to use all of his experience to guide the Dutch to the latter stages of the World Cup in a first appearance at the finals in eight years.
Third-place finishers back in 2014, they did not make it to Russia last time out but their fortunes have improved since then, led by a new generation of talent that includes the likes of Barcelona’s Frenkie de Jong and Bayern’s Matthijs de Ligt.
Led from the back by Liverpool powerhouse Virgil van Dijk — who will be looking to cement his place as the best defender in the world — the Dutch won a qualification group that also included Turkey and Norway.
Senegal did things the hard way to book their place at Qatar 2022 via a penalty shootout, but will look to continue a recent excellent vein of form that has already seen the country crowned as the kings of Africa.
Having beaten Egypt once to claim a first AFCON title in February, Aliou Cisse’s side repeated that feat in the final round of African World Cup qualifying to ensure a spot in Qatar — albeit that match was controversial, as fans in the stadium aimed laser pointers at Egypt’s players during the penalty shootout to put them off.
That match proved to be another battle between two former Liverpool teammates, Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane, and there is no doubt that the Senegalese hopes will largely rest with the latter man, as their primary attacking threat. But they also have some other world-class players to call on, including Chelsea goalkeeper Edouard Mendy.
Senegal, interestingly, has the highest World Cup win percentage of any African nation in the field.
Ecuador went out in the quarterfinals of the last major tournament, the Copa America, as they were beaten 3-0 by eventual winners Argentina, and Gustavo Alfaro’s team will have to be much more resilient if they are to avoid an early exit from the World Cup.
Experienced forward Enner Valencia, who is his country’s all-time leading scorer with 35 goals, will have a significant part to play as Ecuador return to the world’s biggest stage after missing out on the 2018 tournament.
Villarreal defender Pervis Estupinan is another talented player, but the squad overall isn’t the strongest and may struggle to match some of their more illustrious group rivals.
Here are the odds for each team to win and qualify from the group with odds provided by Sports Interaction (minus odds is what must be wagered to win $100 on that specific bet, while plus odds represent the winnings from a successful $100 wager).
The first-place and second-place finishers in Group A will move on to the Round of 16 and will face off against the two teams to advance from Group B on Saturday, Dec. 3 and Sunday, Dec. 4.
(Yes / No)
(Yes / No)
|Netherlands||-251 / +181||-769 / +448|
|Senegal||+459 / -833||-135 / +102|
|Ecuador||+596 / -1250||+102 / -135|
|Qatar||+1177 / -10000||+532 / -1000|
The official FIFA 2022 World Cup match schedule outlines the following knockout pairings for the Round of 16 through to the final:
|Sat, Dec. 3||1A vs. 2B||10 a.m.||Khalifa Int’l|
|Sat, Dec. 3||1C vs. 2D||2 p.m.||Ahmad Bin Ali|
|Sun, Dec. 4||1D vs. 2C||10 a.m.||Al Thumama|
|Sun, Dec. 4||1B vs. 2A||2 p.m.||Al Bayt|
|Mon, Dec. 5||1E vs. 2F||10 a.m.||Al Janoub|
|Mon, Dec. 5||1G vs. 2H||2 p.m.||Stadium 974|
|Tues, Dec. 6||1F vs. 2E||10 a.m.||Education City|
|Tues, Dec. 6||1H vs. 2G||2 p.m.||Lusail|
|Fri, Dec. 9||QF1: 1E/2F vs. 1G/2H||10 a.m.||Education City|
|Fri, Dec. 9||QF2: 1A/2B vs. 1C/2D||2 p.m.||Lusail|
|Sat, Dec. 10||QF3: 1F/2E vs. 1H/2G||10 a.m.||Al Thumama|
|Sat, Dec. 10||QF4: 1B/2A vs. 1D/2C||2 p.m.||Al Bayt|
|Tues, Dec. 13||QF2 vs. QF1||2 p.m.||Lusail|
|Wed, Dec. 14||QF4 vs. QF3||2 p.m.||Al Bayt|
|Sat, Dec. 17||Semifinal losers||10 a.m.||Khalifa Int’l|
|Sun, Dec. 18||Semifinal winners||10 a.m.||Lusail|
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