The Netherlands are favorites in World Cup Group A, but it is their African rivals Senegal who offer the biggest value in the Group.
Who do Bettors Favor?
Checking out the best-rated online sportsbooks for Group A, it is clear that sportsbooks are taking no chances with the Netherlands. The three-time World Cup finalists are priced at -250, while AFCON holders Senegal are rated at +450 and Ecuador at +600. Host nation Qatar are the underdogs in the Group, at odds of +1400.
|World Cup Group A Winner|
Betting on the World Cup Group Winners
The 2022 World Cup is unusual in that it will be held in the middle of the regular season and in one of the hottest nations on the planet, Qatar. That may well have an impact on the players involved here, particularly from the Netherlands, who won’t be used to playing in that level of heat regularly.
Otherwise, the tournament follows the model of previous editions. There are 32 teams, divided into eight Groups of four. Each team plays three group games, and the top two teams from each Group goes through to the knockout stages. In theory, winning the Group gives you an easier Second Round opponent, but World Cups are notorious for not running according to the seeding.
Netherlands Big Favorites in Group A
It isn’t surprising to see the Netherlands rated as big favorites in Group A. Louis van Gaal’s health problems have stalled their progress to an extent, but they had little trouble in qualifying for the tournament, topping Group G after Van Gaal took over from Frank de Boer.
There are plenty of reasons for optimism for Netherlands fans. The squad is a balanced blend of youth and experience. In Memphis Depay they have one of the world’s best strikers and a genuine contender for the World Cup Golden Boot, and in Virgil van Dijk, one of the most accomplished defenders around.
Their manager, too, is a major factor. Pragmatic but never cynical, Van Gaal’s teams often surprise but are rarely ineffective. That said, the Group stage is unpredictable; the Netherlands don’t need to win the Group to go through, and odds of -250 are too short to bet.
Senegal A Major Player
Senegal are the reigning AFCON champions and the top-rated nation in Africa, according to FIFA rankings so they head to Qatar with optimism as major players in this Group.
Star of the Senegal team is Sadio Mane, the prolific former Liverpool striker now playing for Bayern Munich, who will pose a threat to every defense he comes up against in Qatar. But Senegal are more than a one-man team. They have star players throughout the squad, including goalkeeper Edouard Mendy, defender Kalibou Koulibaly and midfielder Idrissa Gueye.
Just as significantly, they have a recent history of high stakes competitive international football, winning AFCON 2021 and coming through a tough qualifying tournament, in both cases through penalty shootouts. That experience and team success will give them confidence for the challenges in Qatar.
They also have their toughest game at the start of the Group when they take on the Netherlands on day two of the competition, and they will relish the chance to catch out the Group favorites. At their current odds, they look a good bet as Group winners and in the To Qualify markets.
Ecuador Out of their Comfort Zone
On rankings, Ecuador should be challenging Senegal for second place in Group A, but things may not play out that way as the South Americans are out of their comfort zone in Qatar.
They finished fourth in the CONMEBOL Qualifying Group, holding off a challenge from Peru by one point, but qualification was secured largely thanks to their home form. In fact, they lost only once at home during the qualifiers, even managing 1-1 draws against Brazil and Argentina in the process.
At 2734 meters above sea level, the national stadium of Ecuador is not the highest in South America, but it is second only to Bolivia, and it confers a significant advantage to the home side that will not translate to the flat desert of Qatar, so in practice, Ecuador may be poorer than their record suggests.
Qatar Can Cause a Surprise
Host nation Qatar are the underdogs for the Group and are as high as +560 even to qualify for the Second Round, but that might underestimate their chances. Ranked 48th in the world, only four places behind Ecuador, they will have the advantage of being at home and at ease in the conditions.
Recent results also suggest that they can’t be underestimated. At the Arab Cup they won all three Group games, thrashed the UAE in the quarter-finals, lost narrowly to Algeria in the semi-finals and then beat Egypt on penalties to secure third place. That level of form puts them not far behind Senegal and suggests that they could be worth a wager to cause a surprise and qualify from the Group.