As we continue to keep you updated with every bit of information about the World Cup, we ride on by offering an in-depth analysis of each group.
It is just over 100 days till the start of the 2022 World cup in Qatar, and everyone is gradually developing the sense that something big is coming up. To stay on top of everything World cup related, stay glued to our publications as we will offer tips such as the odds for the Netherlands winning the World Cup 2022.
The World cup groupings are done in such a way that there are stratifications. This means that due to the “pot” nature employed by FIFA, ‘elite teams’ invariably can avoid themselves until the knockout stages, but they are left to play less-ranked teams.
The consequence of the pattern above is that there is inequality, at least on paper, in the strengths of each team in a group. Take, for example, our focus group for today: Group A.
This group comprises the Netherlands, Senegal, and Ecuador and hosts Qatar. Being the host nation, Qatar was already drawn into group A alongside the Netherlands, which was deemed a pot-A country under their high FIFA ranking. Senegal and Ecuador, considered lower in the FIFA ranking system, were placed in Pot 2 and 3, respectively.
The stratifications make the group stages so much fun and highly competitive because the less-ranked teams will have to be at their best to come out of the group alive. First, however, critical questions arise: Who are the favorites to win the group? Which two sides are most likely to make it from the group, and which players are interested? Join me in my journey to unravel these answers.
Who are the favourites in group A?
The Dutch-speaking nation is a heavy favorite to win the group according to the odds from the bookies. The Oranje were very impressive in qualifying as they won their group by claiming 23 out of 30 points and a goal differential of +25. They have colossal quality littered all across the pitch, and it will be surprising if they do not come out of the group as victors.
The Terranga lions of Senegal also enjoyed a relatively stress-free qualifying exercise. They claimed five wins during the initial qualifying stages and then knocked out the Pharaohs of Egypt in the playoffs. They also won the African Cup of Nations, beating Egypt on penalties.
Meanwhile, South American nation Ecuador battled hard in their very competitive CONMEBOL group to lock the fourth place and marginally edge out Peru to claim the last confirmed ticket.
As customary, the hosts will always have an automatic pass to compete in the World cup. Hence, Qatar are here by virtue of their position of being hosts.
The odds for each team according to the bookies are as follows;
● Netherlands (-200)
● Senegal (+350)
● Ecuador (+600)
● Qatar (+1100)
Who can advance to the next round?
Objectively, any of the four sides can make it through to the next round. This is football and we have seen bigger surprises over the years. However, based on the current strength of each squad and the odds provided by the bookies, we can say that the Netherlands are hands-on favorites to not only qualify but to win the group. Their manager, Louis van Gaal, seems to have a point to prove to the footballing world that he is still one of the finest managers to ever stay in the dug-out.
He has assembled perhaps the most balanced Dutch side since the 2010 World cup when they made it to the finals and narrowly lost out to Spain.
Van Gaal had previously taken the Orange nation to the World cup prior to this edition. The former Manchester United and Bayern Munich manager took the country to the 2014 World Cup, where he guided them to a respectable third-place finish.
Senegal are the defending champions of Africa. Their head coach Aliou Cisse was also a member of their golden generation that stunned the World in the 2002 World Cup in Korea/Japan. The likes of Sadio Mane, Kalidou Koulibaly and Edouard Mendy are the headliners for the Terranga lions and if they are to qualify, they will need all three of them on song.
The Ecuadorian national team, led by Gustavo Julio Alfaro, are also a threat in this group. The simple fact that they were able to navigate through the murky waters of South American qualification to be in Qatar is enough proof. The Ecuadorians will hope that star players like Pervis Estupinan, Bryon Castillo and Moises Caicedo will offer enough firepower in their tanks to fire their nation to the knockout stages.
Though the Qatari national team are hosts of this tournament, we respectfully do not believe they have the quality to challenge the three mentioned earlier. However, we’re tipping the Netherlands and Senegal to scale through.
Who are the best Players?
This group is not deficient of top quality players. The Netherlands can boast of superior quality in almost every area. Memphis Depay is not far away from becoming the all-time leading scorer for his country while Virgil van Dijk remains one of the best center-back in the world. Elsewhere, Georgino Wijnaldum still has the quality to run the midfield.
Senegal can boast of the likes of Sadio Mane, Kalidou Koulibaly, Edouard Mendy and Idrissa Gueye. While the Ecuadorians have Bryon Castillo, Moises Caicedo and Pervis Estupinan. While the Qataris can boast of Hassan Al-Haydos, Akram Afif.
Talents to watch out for
Tyrell Malacia: The 22-year-old left-back has made his dream move to English giants Man united and is seen as one of the players to watch out for in Qatar as he is very durable and attacking minded.
Pape Mater Sarr: The young Spurs man is one of the young players to shine if given the chance in Qatar.
Moises Caicedo: The 20-year-old Brighton midfielder is making strides in the Premier League and could sparkle in Qatar.
Akram Afif: At 25, Afif is surprisingly one of the youngest in the team, he is one to watch out for.