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World Cup: Group A preview

Group A looks to be an open affair, with tournament hosts Qatar taking on the Netherlands, Senegal and Ecuador.

The Dutch are the most experienced side but, after missing out in 2018, featuring at the World Cup will be a new experience for most of their players.

Senegal were disappointing in their group stage exit in Russia but are a country in form having won the Africa Cup of Nations earlier this year.

Those two teams are expected to qualify but any side that comes through the arduous South American qualifying system deserves respect. Ecuador's young team will be looking to hit the ground running and have an air of unpredictability.

Meanwhile, hosts Qatar have enjoyed continental success in recent years and will be aiming to ensure they don't become just the second host nation to crash out in the group stages.

WhatWorld Cup
WhereQatar
When20th November - 18th December 2022
How to watchAll matches will be shown on either the BBC or ITV
OddsBrazil 9/2, England 11/2, France 6/1, Argentina 7/1, Spain 8/1

Who has been drawn in Group A?

CountryManagerCaptainBest finishOdds to qualify from groupOdds to win group
QatarFelix Sanchez

Hassan Al-Haydos

Debut6/114/1
Ecuador

Gustavo Alfaro

Enner Valencia

Last-16 (2006)

1/16/1
Senegal

Aliou Cisse

Kalidou Koulibaly

Quarter-finals (2002)

8/119/2
Netherlands

Louis van Gaal

Virgil van Dijk

Runners-up (1974, 1978, 2010)

1/82/5

After missing out in 2018, the Netherlands are back at the World Cup and aiming to go one better than their three previous runners-up finishes.

Louis van Gaal, who leads the Oranje into the tournament, masterminded their run to the semi-finals in 2014, beating holders Spain 5-1 in their opening fixture before concluding their campaign with a 3-0 victory against Brazil in the third-place play-off.

They are 2/5 to win Group A, with African champions Senegal second in the betting at 9/2. The Lions of Teranga beat Egypt to win their maiden continental crown earlier this year and edged the same opponents in final qualifying.

If they do make the last-16, they will not be frightened by the prospect of penalties, having won both the AFCON and qualified for this tournament courtesy of spot-kicks.

Hosts Qatar are 14/1 to qualify and will be desperate to make an impact on their debut, but the wildcard in this pool has to be Ecuador.

La Tri qualified ahead of Peru, Colombia and Chile in the ultra-competitive CONMEBOL group and have an exciting young side who will embrace the tournament.

When are the Group A fixtures?

DateMatch numberTeam 1Team 2KO timeVenue
20th November1QatarEcuador16:00

Al Bayt Stadium, Al Khor

21st November2SenegalNetherlands16:00

Al Thumama Stadium, Doha

25th November18QatarSenegal13:00

Al Thumama Stadium, Doha

25th November

19NetherlandsEcuador16:00

Khalifa International Stadium, Al Rayyan

29th November

35EcuadorSenegal15:00

Khalifa International Stadium, Al Rayyan

29th November

36NetherlandsQatar15:00

Al Bayt Stadium, Al Khor

Group A includes the first fixture of the tournament, as hosts Qatar take on Ecuador at 19:00 on 20th November.

The hosts are 9/4 to win their first-ever World Cup finals game, before Senegal then face the Netherlands 24 hours later in a fixture that could decide who takes top spot in the group.

The second round of games takes place on 25th November as Qatar host Senegal and the Netherlands meet Ecuador.

Group A's final matches will both be played on 29th November, kicking off at 18:00. Ecuador go up against Senegal, while the hosts meet the Oranje.

Related Group A News

World Cup - Football: Ecuador team profile

World Cup - Football: Netherlands team profile

World Cup - Football: Qatar team profile

World Cup - Football: Senegal team profile

Who are the players to look out for in Group A?

The Netherlands are the favourites to win the pool and, while not as star-studded as in previous incarnations, are blessed with quality. Captain Virgil van Dijk leads a defence that could also feature Bayern Munich's Matthijs de Ligt and Inter Milan's Denzel Dumfries.

Barcelona's Frenkie de Jong anchors the midfield alongside Bayern new boy Ryan Gravenberch, while Memphis Depay is the key in attack and is 20/1 to be the tournament's top scorer.

De Ligt and Gravenberch's Bayern colleague Sadio Mane is Senegal's star man and Aliou Cisse's side has an exceptional spine.

Goalkeeper Edouard Mendy was joined at Chelsea over the summer by captain Kalidou Koulibaly and are protected by a midfield led by Idrissa Gueye.

West Ham fans will recognise the Ecuadorian captain Enner Valencia, while the Brighton trio of Pervis Estupinan, Moises Caicedo and Jeremy Sarmiento should all feature.

Meanwhile, Qatar's key man is Almoez Ali, the Sudanese-born striker who won the Golden Boot at both the 2019 Asian Cup and 2021 CONCACAF Gold Cup and who is 250/1 to do the same at the World Cup.

Who could be the breakout stars in Group A?

Van Gaal is a coach who has regularly put his faith in youth and Ajax's Jurrien Timber could be hot property after the tournament.

The coach warned the defender off joining Manchester United last summer, hinting that he wants him to be in the best possible form in Qatar.

Another player linked with United over the summer was Cody Gakpo and he could impress, as could Senegal's Iliman Ndiaye.

The versatile attacker currently plays in the Championship for Sheffield United and is the kind of unknown quantity who could cause the odd surprise.

Who will win Group A?

The Dutch are understandably the favourites to take top spot in the group and look to have both the players and the pedigree to win at least two of their games.

Van Gaal's Oranje are 12/1 to win the tournament and 8/11 to reach the quarter-finals.

Senegal look to be their biggest threat, although Ecuador's unpredictability could stand them in good stead.

However, while Qatar have some exciting players, they may not quite be good enough to have the desired impact on their World Cup debut.

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