World Cup – Group A Preview

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Football’s greatest international occasion returns this week because the 2022 FIFA World Cup will get underway in Qatar.

Ahead of the event we’ve previewed every of the competing sides, starting with the quartet of countries in Group A – Qatar, Ecuador, the Netherlands and Senegal.

Qatar

  • FIFA Ranking: 50
  • Previous finest: First time entrants
  • Manager: Felix Sanchez
  • Key participant: Almoez Ali
  • Odds to be topped champions: 250/1

Qatar will participate within the World Cup for the primary time this winter having earned qualification attributable to their standing as hosts. It is the primary time that the finals have been hosted by an Arab nation, with the 2019 Asia Cup winners seeded for the group stage draw.

Felix Sanchez has been accountable for Qatar since 2017 and led the nation to that Asia Cup triumph in 2019, as Sanchez’s aspect beat Japan 3-1 within the last. Qatar’s squad for the World Cup can be manufactured from gamers completely from the Qatar Stars League, which has improved in power lately.

There had been hopes that Xavi would take cost of the nationwide aspect for the event, however Sanchez has retained his place after the previous swapped Al Sadd for Barcelona final yr. The home league has given the nationwide aspect the absolute best likelihood of upsetting the chances this winter, with the Stars League paused from mid-September to permit Qatar to focus their preparation on the World Cup.

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Sanchez has taken his crew on breaks to Vienna and Marbella, whereas Qatar will arrive into the event on a five-game profitable streak. The opposition throughout that run has admittedly been restricted nonetheless, with wins over Nicaragua, Guatemala, Honduras, Panama and Albania.

Almoez Alli and Akram Afif can be central to their hopes, with the previous having scored 42 targets in 85 appearances at worldwide degree. The Sudanese-born ahead high scored in the course of the Asia Cup success in 2019 and likewise received the Golden Boot with six targets on the CONCACAF Gold Cup in 2021, after Qatar’s invitation to compete within the North American continental competitors.




Ecuador

  • FIFA Ranking: 44
  • Previous finest: Round of 16 (2006)
  • Manager: Gustavo Alfaro
  • Key participant: Moises Caicedo
  • Odds to be topped champions: 150/1

Despite being the second-lowest ranked of the South American groups at first of qualification, Ecuador secured their place on the finals with a fourth-place end in CONMEBOL qualifying.

Gustavo Alfaro’s aspect misplaced simply as soon as on dwelling soil, holding Brazil and Argentina to attracts in Ecuador and securing a powerful 4-2 win over Uruguay. Their assertion end result was a 6-1 thrashing of Colombia, performances which contributed to an automated place in Qatar.

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Ecuador can be captained on the World Cup by former West Ham ahead Enner Valencia, who has scored 35 targets in 74 appearances for the nationwide aspect. The centrepiece of the aspect is Moises Caicedo, who has turned heads along with his shows within the Premier League at Brighton. A powerful event might see his price-tag rise as high golf equipment circle for the 21-year-old.

Caicedo’s membership teammates Pervis Estupinan and Jeremy Sarmiento are additionally a part of the South American’s squad, whereas there are excessive hopes for Bayer Leverkusen defender Piero Hincapié.

Ecuador have reached the knockout rounds simply as soon as beforehand, the place a David Beckham free-kick for England eradicated the aspect in 2006.

Netherlands

  • FIFA Ranking: 8
  • Previous finest: Runners-up (1974, 1978, 2010)
  • Manager: Louis van Gaal
  • Key participant: Virgil van Dijk
  • Odds to be topped champions: 14/1

The Netherlands return to the World Cup after failing to safe qualification for Russia 4 years in the past and arrive in Qatar in optimistic temper. The Dutch certified as group winners, with a flawless dwelling document – 5 wins from 5 with 20 targets scored and only one conceded – propelling their cost.

Louis van Gaal’s aspect additionally safe progress to the Nations League finals, which can be hosted within the Netherlands subsequent yr. Virgil van Dijk’s aim in opposition to Belgium booked their place within the final 4 and his presence can be a significant enhance for the World Cup.

Van Dijk missed Euro 2020 as he recovered from an ACL subject and can participate in his first main event in Qatar. The Dutch captain will begin within the centre of a again three system that has labored for the Oranje, flanked both aspect by the athleticism of Jurrien Timber and Nathan Ake.

Van Gaal’s transfer to a 5-3-2 system has had criticism as a result of Dutch rules of 4-3-3, but it surely has been one which has delivered success with the Netherlands unbeaten since shedding within the final 16 at Euro 2020. That 15-game run has included beating Belgium twice and spectacular wins over Turkey, Denmark and Poland.

The Dutch aspect lacks the star energy of previous tournaments, however a beneficial draw can present the platform for achievement. Memphis Depay can be essential to their possibilities and now trails solely Robin van Persie among the many nation’s all-time main scorers.

Cody Gakpo may also be one to observe, following a blistering begin to the season at PSV. The 23-year-old has 9 targets and 12 assists in simply 14 league appearances this season.

Van Gaal will step down from his third spell as Netherlands supervisor following the event, with Ronald Koeman set to take up the function. The 71-year-old has undergone radiation therapy for prostate most cancers throughout the previous two years.

Senegal

  • FIFA Ranking: 18
  • Previous finest: Quarter-finals (2002)
  • Manager:  Aliou Cissé
  • Key participant: Sadio Mane
  • Odds to be topped champions: 125/1

Senegal will arrive in Qatar in assured temper with the Lions of Teranga having fun with a fantastic interval of their historical past. Aliou Cisse’s aspect have been topped champions of Africa for the primary time in February and have reached a second successive World Cup finals.

Just twice earlier than have Senegal reached the event, with their debut having seen a crew containing the likes of El Hadji-Diouf and Papa Bouba Diop attain the final eight twenty years in the past. There is considerably extra expertise within the present crop, a squad headlined by captain Kalidou Koulibaly and Sadio Mane.

Mane’s health is the main concern heading into the World Cup after the ahead sustained a knee harm earlier this month. The 30-year-old was named as Player of the Tournament in the course of the AFCON success earlier this yr and have become his nation’s all-time document goalscorer in June. His contribution can be not possible to exchange ought to he be unable to function, however Senegal will count on to at the least progress from the group.

There’s a robust backbone to the aspect with Chelsea duo Edouard Mendy and Koulibaly, whereas Everton midfielder Idrissa Gueye will anchor the midfield. Further ahead, each Ismailla Sarr and Boulaye Dia have the tempo and expertise to bother groups in Qatar.

Read – World Cup Preview: How Tite’s flexible setup makes Brazil dangerous

Read Also – Five top players snubbed from World Cup squads

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