Qatar will be expected to put up a strong performance as host in the much anticipated World Cup opener against Ecuador. The game will kick off at 17:00 on Sunday, November 20, 2022.
The match will be Qatar’s first taste of a World Cup match, as they have never qualified for the competition before now. Meanwhile, their opponents, Ecuador, failed to qualify for the Russia 2018 edition but has been a regular in the competition in recent times.
Qatar are unbeaten in their last five matches and have won all of them. However, that has not improved their FIFA Ranking since the games were not FIFA friendlies.
Ecuador are also unbeaten in their last six games but have recorded only one win, drawing five.
Another important stat is that Ecuador have not conceded any goal in the six matches, which cuts across all competitions from friendlies to qualifiers.
Hence, the likelihood of Qatar getting a win against Ecuador is very low.
Netherlands and Senegal are two other members of the group, and both have been deemed favorites to qualify from the Group.
However, a win for any side between Qatar and Ecuador could be the beginning of a potential upset in the Group.
Head to Head
Qatar and Ecuador have met three times in friendlies. The three meetings have been a win apiece for both teams and one ending in a draw. Hence, the tie might be broken in the much anticipated 2022 World Cup opener.
They last met at the Jassim Bin Hamad Stadium in 2018. Qatar picked up a 4-3 win in a highly entertaining affair. Almoez Ali bagged a brace for the hosts, while Akram Afif and Hassan Al Haydos added the other two goals. All three goalscorers have been named in the squad for the World Cup.
Enner Valencia scored twice for Ecuador and is the team captain for the tournament. Two of the three meetings between the two sides have produced more than 2.5 goals.
La Tri, on the other hand, are making their fourth appearance at the FIFA World Cup. They made it to the round of 16 in 2006, their best performance in the competition to date. In their last game at the World Cup in 2014, they played out a goalless draw against France.
As the host nation have never lost their opening game in the history of the competition, the odds of Qatar earning a win or a draw look good here.
The hosts have scored at least a goal in their last five games, while Ecuador have kept a clean sheet in each of their previous six matches. Ecuador’s prior experience in the competition gives them a slight edge in this game, but in international competitions, home advantage can prove to be a huge factor.
With that in mind, we expect this game to produce a closely-fought contest.
Team News and Predicted starting lineup
Qatar will be banking on striker Almoez Ali for goals as World Cup hosts aim for a winning start against Ecuador.
With his 42 goals tally for Qatar, Almoez Ali will be supported by midfielder, and captain, Hassan Al-Haydos, who will be making his 170th international appearance.
Another top striker for Qatar is Ahmed Alaaeldin, but there are fitness concerns after he was forced off in a friendly against Albania.
Qatar head coach Felix Sanchez will likely go for a defensive play in Qatar’s first-ever World Cup campaign.
On the other hand, their opponents
Ecuador are World Cup veterans. It will be their fourth World Cup campaign after missing the 2018 edition in Russia.
Former West Ham player Enner Valencia is now Ecuador’s captain and will lead the line alongside Gonzalo Plata and Romario Ibarra.
Angelo Preciado or Robert Arboleda will likely fill in the right-back position. The World Cup veterans are expected to adopt a more attacking play
Qatar predicted XI: Al-Sheeb; Miguel, Al-Wari, Salman, Hassan, Ahmed; Hatem, Boudiaf; Al-Haydos; Ali, Afif
Ecuador predicted XI: Dominguez; Preciado, Torres, Hincapie, Estupinan; Gruezo, Caicedo, Cifuentes; Plata, Valencia, Ibarra
Ecuador are tipped to carry the day against Qatar, given their experience and pedigree compared to their opponents, but with good home fans’ support, Qatar will likely hold them to a 1-1 draw.