2022 FIFA World Cup Preview and Predictions: Group A

The 2022 FIFA World Cup is fast approaching and we are bringing you a preview of every group ahead of the tournament, offering an insight into each team, as well as predictions as to who will progress to the knockout rounds. First up is Group A that contains host nation Qatar, three-time finalists the Netherlands, Sadio Mané’s Senegal and South American outfit Ecuador.

The Teams:






The world’s best players will be heading to Qatar for a winter of World Cup action, something that is unprecedented for all, especially the host nation who will appear in their first-ever World Cup. They kick things off against Ecuador on November 20 at the Al Bayt Stadium in the tournament opener.

Adding to the controversy of this year’s tournament, Qatar are set to become the first team in history to make their entrance on the world stage without qualifying for the tournament before hand. They have come close to qualifying for the World Cup in previous years but didn’t quite manage to make the cut. Instead, the decision to make them hosts of the 2022 tournament has allowed them to make their debut.

Qatar have proven themselves to be a capable footballing nation, however, and they were crowned champions of the Asian Cup in 2019. They topped their group, which contained nations Saudi Arabia, Lebanon and North Korea, before defeating Iraq, South Korea and United Arab Emirates on their route to the final.

Certainly, if they hadn’t already done so, they proved their footballing credentials in the final, recording a 3-1 victory over Japan. This was the nation’s first-ever Asian Cup title and also their maiden top four finish in the tournament. Their success in the tournament cannot be underrated and head coach Felix Sanchez believes that home advantage could give them an opportunity to qualify for the knockout rounds.

Are the Netherlands Favorites?

After failing to qualify for the 2018 World Cup, the Netherlands are back and will be looking to prove their elite status once more. Only suffering one defeat in qualification, Louis Van Gaal’s side are looking to maintain their strong form in this tournament. Being clear favorites to top the group, the Dutch will be feeling the pressure from the off.

The Oranje have also proven their quality in the most recent UEFA Nations League matches, topping their group as they qualify for the finals next year to face Croatia, Spain and Italy. Out of their six Nations League fixtures, the Netherlands dropped points in just one match, drawing with Poland but winning all five of their other fixtures. This included two victories over Belgium, most notably a 4-1 win at the beginning of June this year.

Senegal are a team that may often be overlooked but their recent success, such as their 2021 African Cup of Nations win, should see them as serious players in this year’s tournament. Mane was able to get one over his then Liverpool teammate Mohamed Salah, defeating Egypt on penalties by scoring the winning spot kick as Senegal were crowned AFCON champions for the first time in their history. The Teranga Lions also defeated Egypt in the qualifiers to reach the finals of the 2022 World Cup.

Senegal have a host of talented players in their squad that currently play across Europe’s top leagues, including Edouard Mendy, Kalidou Koulibaly, Idrissa Gueye, Abdou Diallo and, of course, Sadio Mané. Aliou Cisse, Senegal head coach, should absolutely have the confidence that his side can make an impact at this tournament and they are the most likely candidates to challenge the Dutch to top the group.

There were initial fears that star man Mané could potentially miss out since he recently picked up a knee injury in Bayern Munich’s 6-1 win over Werder Bremen that forced the ‘African Footballer of the Year’ to be substituted after just 20 minutes. However, those fears will be somewhat alleviated since Mané has been named in their official 26-man squad.

Key Fixture

November 21 sees Senegal and the Netherlands go head-to-head at Al Thumama Stadium in what is perhaps the biggest fixture in group A. If Senegal come away with victory, there’s no reason why they couldn’t go on to win the group. Then, the real pressure is on the Dutch.

A serious incentive for Senegal is also the chance to become the first-ever African side to finish further than the quarter-finals. They did this themselves during the 2002 World Cup, equalling the finishes of both Cameroon and Ghana who were unable to make it past the quarter-final stage in 1990 and 2010 respectively.

South American Upset?

Let’s not forget about Ecuador who finalize group A. The South American side finished in fourth place of the South American qualifiers, claiming the final automatic spot for the finals. They finished as the second-highest goalscorers during qualification, tied with heavyweights Argentina.

A 4-2 win against Uruguay, a 4-0 victory over Colombia and a 2-0 triumph versus Chile were the highlights from their qualifying conquest. Not forgetting 1-1 draws at home to both Brazil and Argentina at the beginning of the calendar year, Ecuador have proven that they too are no pushovers.

Ones To Watch

Memphis Depay finished as top goalscorer for the whole of the European qualifiers with 12 goals to his name, also assisting six times. He will be the main man expected to lead the line for the Oranje. Calcio fans will also be keen to keep an eye out for Inter’s Denzel Dumfries who impressed at Euro 2020.

Michael Estrada was Ecuador’s top goalscorer during qualifying, finding the back of the net a total of six times. However, former West Ham forward Enner Valencia will be the side’s key man. He also contributed five goals during the qualifying campaign but has been on electric form of late for club side Fenerbahce, scoring 13 goals in just 12 matches in the league so far this term.

Final Prediction

At a glance, Group A seems relatively straightforward. Qatar appear to be the whipping boys of the group, due to their lack of experience at the top stage, but victories over respectable footballing nations at the 2019 Asian Cup mean they shouldn’t be treated lightly. Home support could also be a huge factor.

Moreover, favorites the Netherlands can easily be rivalled by the quality that both Senegal and Ecuador possess. The Teranga Lions have demonstrated their resolute attitude and quality during AFCON and during their qualifiers, whilst Ecuador have also picked up impressive results against top quality nations.

However, we are still expecting the Netherlands and Senegal to qualify from the group. Nonetheless, their matchup on the second day of the World Cup could prove pivotal to who claims the top spot.

Group A

1. Netherlands

2. Senegal

3. Ecuador

4. Qatar