- Qatar v Ecuador
- Sunday, November 20, 2022, 11:00 ET
- At the Al Bayt Stadium, Al Khor, Qatar
The opening game of the 2022 World Cup promises a fascinating clash of football cultures as host nation Qatar entertain South American qualifiers Ecuador
Who do Bettors Favor?
According to the best-rated online sportsbooks home advantage will not count for much in this game as the host nation kick off against Ecuador. Despite playing on their home soil, Qatar are rated as the outsiders here, at odds of up to +280, while the South Americans are the big favorite of bettors at between +110 and +118, and the draw is priced at around +230.
|Qatar v Ecuador|
World Cup Group A Betting Briefing
As is traditional, the host nation is drawn in World Cup Group A and will kick off the tournament. In Qatar’s case, this game may also represent their best opportunity of a win. Ecuador are ranked 44 in the world, according to the latest FIFA rankings and are only the seventh best team in South America, although they qualified in fourth, behind Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay. The other two teams in the Group, the Netherlands (8th) and Senegal (14th) are favored to progress so Qatar (50th) will want to make a big statement in their opening and easiest fixture.
Hosts Have a Lot to Prove
There have been controversial World Cups before, most notably in 1934 (Italy) and 1978 (Argentina) but this year’s edition seems to have become equally controversial, through a combination of irregular calendar scheduling, the feeling that Qatar is not a football country, and its human rights record. Fair or not, it seems that the host nation has a lot to prove.
On the pitch, there has been a marked shift in approach, in favor of producing home-grown players, in recent years. On paper, they are the Group underdogs, but there are factors in their favor. Their coach, Felix Sanchez, has been with them since 2017, and eight of the players in the squad were part of the Under-18 Asian Cup winning team.
Qatar also won the senior Asian Cup in 2019 and they had guest status at both the Copa America 2019 and the CONCACAF Gold Cup 2021, providing valuable experience of big tournaments. Having spent six months playing friendlies ahead of this tournament, they are likely to be the best prepared team in the competition, and will have a distinct advantage over opponents unused to these conditions.
Ecuador out of their Comfort Zone
The South American challengers are likely to be dogged opponents, but they are a long way out of their comfort zone here and although this is their easiest game on paper, it may not turn out that way.
Ecuador, along with Bolivia and Colombia, traditionally benefit from being able to play their home games at high altitude. Indeed, for a time in the late 2000s, FIFA had banned the three nations from playing home qualifying games at venues over 2,500 feet, following complaints from the Brazilian FA. The ban was subsequently lifted but Ecuador remain a far less formidable opponent outside their home nation.
In terms of playing style, they are dogged rather than entertaining, and closed out their qualification campaign with a series of draws, though their draw against Argentina, which confirmed their World Cup spot, was a solid result against a strong opponent.
World Cup Group A Match Betting
The opening round of games at the World Cup is the setting where months of speculation and theory meets reality and there are usually plenty of surprises.
This may not be a headline-grabber in terms of the quality of the two teams, but it does present a good opportunity for World Cup bettors. Ecuador can be dangerous, but that is invariably when they are able to play at altitude against teams that are not used to it, a situation that won’t apply in Qatar.
Opening game caution and the awareness that this is the best chance for both teams to get a win on the board in Group A could make this a low-scoring encounter, but I think Qatar have enough in their favor that they can get a crucial goal and grab three points to kick off their tournament.