Group A overview
Host nation Qatar are in Group A alongside AFCON champions Senegal, Ecuador and three-time finalists the Netherlands.
Senegal are the only one of the four teams to have qualified for the last World Cup in 2018, while this is Qatar’s first World Cup appearance and Ecuador’s fourth.
The Favourite: Netherlands
Fortunate to be drawn into a very favourable Group A, the Netherlands are heavy favourites to win the section.
Louis van Gaal has experience of managing the Oranje at a major tournament, and the former Manchester United manager has a squad possessing some elite talent in Virgil van Dijk, Frenkie de Jong, Cody Gakpo and numerous others.
Failing to qualify four years ago was a blow, but the Dutch have a proud World Cup record with three semi-final appearances since 1998.
The Netherlands are 1/2 to win Group A at Paddy Power.
Appearing in just their third World Cup, Senegal were surprise quarter-finalists in 2002 and fell at the group stage four years ago. Their chances in Qatar are heavily dependent on the fitness of Sadio Mane, who is an injury doubt after going off injured in Bayern Munich’s match against Werder Bremen on 8th November.
Chelsea duo Edouard Mendy and Kalidou Koulibaly also have significant roles to play. In the final third, all eyes will be on Ismaïla Sarr if Mane is unavailable.
The Lions Of Teranga qualified for the World Cup in dramatic circumstances, defeating Egypt on penalties after the tie finished 1-1 on aggregate.
Senegal are 9/2 to win Group A at Bet365.
Ecuador’s World Cup campaign is already clouded in controversy over the fielding of Byron Castillo in qualification.
They had to battle on the pitch to snatch the final automatic qualifying spot from CONMEBOL, drawing with Peru, Brazil and Argentina over their last four matches to secure a fourth World Cup appearance of the 21st century.
Veteran forward Enner Valencia carries much of Ecuador’s goal threat, while 21-year-old Brighton midfielder Moisés Caicedo is poised for a big tournament.
The odds make Ecuador pretty much neck-and-neck with Senegal to finish second – their only World Cup knockout match ended in a 1-0 defeat to England in 2006.
Ecuador are 21/20 to qualify from Group A at SpreadEx.
Competing in their first World Cup, the Qatari national team has taken a giant leap forward over the last few years, winning the Asian Cup in 2019 and finishing third in the 2021 Arab Cup.
The Maroon have notched five consecutive victories leading up to the tournament, but have been starved of competitive action having automatically qualified for the World Cup.
While home advantage counts for something, Qatar have their work cut out to make it out of the group stage here.
Schedule and Venues
- 20th November: Qatar vs Ecuador, 4pm, Al Bayt Stadium
- 21st November: Senegal vs Netherlands, 4pm, Al Thumama Stadium
- 25th November: Qatar vs Senegal, 1pm, Al Thumama Stadium
- 25th November: Ecuador vs Netherlands, 4pm, Khalifa International Stadium
- 29th November: Netherlands vs Qatar, 3pm, Al Bayt Stadium
- 29th November: Ecuador vs Senegal, 3pm, Khalifa International Stadium
All odds are subject to change