The 2022 World Cup begins in just 8 days, and 32 teams enter with dreams of finally lifting the trophy as world champions on December 18. As we prepare for the start of the tournament, we’ll bring you previews of each of the 8 groups, which teams we plan to compete with for the title, and who could go home after the group stage.
We start our previews with Group A, which is an interesting group that looks like it has 2 teams that could overtake the others. However, it also contains hosts Qatar, who have been preparing for this moment on the biggest footballing stage in the world for 12 years. With only 1 host who have never managed to qualify for 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 for it as a tough group.
November 20 – Qatar vs. Ecuador, 11:00 a.m. ET / 8:00 a.m. PT
21 November – Senegal vs Netherlands, 11:00 a.m. ET / 8:00 a.m. PT
November 25 – Qatar vs Senegal, 8:00 a.m. ET / 5:00 a.m. PT; Netherlands vs. Ecuador, 11:00 a.m. ET / 8:00 a.m. PT
November 29 – Ecuador vs. Senegal, 10 a.m. ET/7 a.m. PT; Netherlands vs. Qatar, 10:00 a.m. ET / 7:00 a.m. PT
Qatar enter the 2022 World Cup as hosts and under the most pressure of any Group A member, as they look to continue the host nation’s tradition of qualifying for the knockout stage. They have prepared by taking on a variety of top teams from around the world as they form a team that won the Asian Cup as recently as 2019. The Maroon will be looking to turn heads with their game as he will play his very first 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: Black Horse
One to watch: Almoez Ali is tied for the all-time goalscoring record, scoring 42 goals in 85 appearances. He will be looking to boost the Qatari attack and score a few goals in the back of the net.
Ecuador’s road to the World Cup was shaky and marred by scandals as they qualified 4th in CONMEBOL and survived several challenges from Chile using an ineligible player. With that out of the way, minus a 3-point deduction for 2026 World Cup qualifying, Ecuador can focus on returning to the World Cup for the first time since 2014. As they fell as their golden generation begins to fade in retirement, head coach Gustavo Alfaro has rebuilt the team using some youthful exuberance to get to this point.
FIFA Ranking: 44
Odds of winning: Black Horse
One to watch: Enner Valencia is the captain and most experienced player in the squad, and will be counted on to score goals for La Tricolor.
Senegal are a very dangerous team who can go as far as one of their biggest stars can take them. That star is Said Mané, but it remains to be seen whether he will be ready for the opener as he was injured earlier this week. Teranga Lions can beat anyone at any time, and they can be a team that could easily win Group A. They came out in the group stage at the 2018 World Cup, but were Cup runners-up d’Afrique des Nations 2019 and won the 2021 edition of the tournament. As a result, they’re a team that many believe can do some damage in this tournament.
FIFA Ranking: 18
Odds of winning: In the race
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.
Group A is completed by the prohibitive favorites to win the group, the Oranje. They have a healthy mix of veteran experience and young talent, and it’s worked out pretty well for them. Head coach Louis van Gaal wants his team to push the problem and keep opponents on their heels while retaining possession of the ball, and that has made the Dutch a contender for the World Cup trophy.
FIFA Ranking: 8
Odds of winning: Favorite
One to watch: Denzel Dumfries looks set to have a breakout tournament on defense, but he’ll be a factor on offense as well.
Who will come out of Group A? Which games are you most interested in? Let us know in the comments.