The 2022 World Cup is only two days away, with hosts Qatar set to take on Ecuador in the opening fixture on November 20. Here is a complete analysis of Group A, and a pick of the favourites that could make it into the knockout stages.
World Cup 2022 Group A review – squads
Moises Ramirez (Independiente del Valle), Alexander Dominguez (LDU Quito), Hernan Galindez (Aucas), Piero Hincapie (Bayer Leverkusen), Robert Arboleda (Sao Paulo), Pervis Estupinan (Brighton), Angelo Preciado (Genk), Jackson Porozo (Troyes), Xavier Arreaga (Seattle Sounders), Diego Palacios (Los Angeles FC), Felix Torres (Santos Laguna), William Pacho (Royal Antwerp), Carlos Gruezo (Augsburg), Jose Cifuente (Los Angeles FC), Alan Franco (Talleres), Moises Caicedo (Brighton), Angel Mena (Club Leon), Jeremy Sarmiento (Brighton), Jhegson Mendez (Los Angeles FC), Ayrton Preciado (Santos Laguna), Gonzalo Plata (Real Valladolid), Romario Ibarra (Santos Laguna), Djorkaeff Reasco (Newell’s Old Boys), Kevin Rodriguez (Imbabura), Michael Estrada (Cruz Azul), Enner Valencia (Fenerbahce).
Strengths and weaknesses – Brighton’s Pervis Estupinan, Moises Caicedo and Jeremy Sarmiento make up the Premier League contingent, and the team will be expected to play on the counter. However, an injury to Angel Mena might make it difficult for them to transition into attack.
Saad Al Sheeb (Al-Sadd), Yousef Hassan (Al-Gharafa), Meshaal Barsham (Al-Sadd), Ro-Ro (Al-Sadd), Abdelkarim Hassan (Al-Sadd), Boualem Khoukhi (Al-Sadd), Ismaeel Mohammad (Al-Duhail), Bassam Al-Rawi (Al-Duhail), Tarek Salman (Al-Sadd), Musab Kheder (Al-Sadd), Homam Ahmed (Al-Gharafa), Jassem Ghaber (Al-Arabi), Karim Boudiaf (Al-Duhail), Abdulaziz Hatem (Al-Rayyan), Ali Assadalla (Al-Sadd), Assim Madibo (Al-Duhail), Salem Al-Hajri (Al-Sadd), Mohammed Waad (Al-Sadd), Mostafa Tarek (Al-Sadd), Hassan Al-Haydos (Al-Sadd), Akram Afif (Al-Sadd), Almoez Ali (Al-Duhail), Mohammed Muntari (Al-Duhail), Ahmed Alaaeldin (Al-Gharafa), Khalid Muneer (Al-Wakrah), Naif Al-Hadhrami (Al-Rayyan).
Strengths and weaknesses – Qatar will be looking to avoid being the only other World Cup host country to be eliminated in the group stages apart from South Africa in 2010. They are very reliant on their two forwards, Almoez Ali and Akram Afif, but have a leaky defense which could cost them.
Justin Bijlow (Feyenoord), Remko Pasveer (Ajax), Andries Noppert (sc Heerenveen), Virgil van Dijk (Liverpool), Nathan Ake (Manchester City), Daley Blind (Ajax), Jurrien Timber (Ajax) Denzel Dumfries (Internazionale), Stefan de Vrij (Internazionale), Mathijs de Ligt (Bayern München), Tyrell Malacia (Manchester United), Jeremie Frimpong (Bayer Leverkusen), Frenkie de Jong (Barcelona), Steven Berghuis (Ajax), Davy Klaassen (Ajax), Teun Koopmeiners (Atalanta Bergamo), Cody Gakpo (PSV), Marten de Roon (Atalanta Bergamo), Kenneth Taylor (Ajax), Xavi Simons (PSV), Memphis Depay (FC Barcelona), Steven Bergwijn (Ajax), Vincent Janssen (Royal Antwerp FC), Luuk de Jong (PSV), Noa Lang (Club Brugge), Wout Weghorst (Besiktas)
Strengths and weaknesses – Netherlands head into the group as the favourites to win it. The 2010 runners-up have a bunch of exciting young players in their squad, and will be expected to win all their games.
Edouard Mendy (Chelsea), Seny Dieng (QPR), Alfred Gomis (Rennes), Youssouf Sabaly (Real Betis), Kalidou Koulibaly (Chelsea), Abdou Diallo (RB Leipzig), Pape Abou Cisse (Olympiacos), Formose Mendy (Amiens), Fode Ballo-Toure (AC Milan), Ismail Jakobs (Monaco), Idrissa Gueye (Everton), Cheikhou Kouyate (Nottingham Forest), Nampalys Mendy (Leicester), Pape Gueye (Marseille), Pape Sarr (Tottenham), Moustapha Name (Pafos), Mamadou Loum (Reading), Krepin Diatta (Monaco), Sadio Mane (Bayern Munich), Ismaila Sarr (Watford), Bamba Dieng (Marseille), Boulaye Dia (Salernitana), Famara Diedhiou (Alanyaspor), Nicolas Jackson (Villarreal), Iliman Ndiaye (Sheffield United)
Strengths and weaknesses – Sadio Mane has been ruled out for the World Cup, in a huge blow to Senegal’s hopes. However, this gives the other players a reason to step up their level, despite missing their best ever player due to injury.
Who makes it to the knockout stages of the World Cup?
Netherlands and Senegal are the two picks to progress to the knockout stages from Group A. Although Mane will be out for the African Champions, they have enough great talent to help them overcome the other teams and move into the knockout stages.
Both teams, however, only seem to have an outside chance at making it to the finals of the tournament.