The four teams in Group A of the competition are hosts Qatar, Ecuador, Senegal and The Netherlands. On paper, the Dutch are the favourites to win the group.
The 2022 FIFA World Cup will be the 22nd edition of the FIFA World Cup, a quadrennial international men’s football championship contested by the senior national teams of FIFA member associations. It will be held in Qatar from November 20 to December 18, 2022. This will be the first World Cup held in the Arab world, and the second World Cup to be held entirely in Asia, following the 2002 tournament in South Korea and Japan.
The four teams in Group A of the competition are hosts Qatar, Ecuador, Senegal and The Netherlands. On paper, the Dutch are the favourites to win the group. However, the battle for second place in the table will be a tight affair. Qatar will have home support but Senegal is a force to be reckoned with as Sadio Mane will lead the attack. Here is a detailed analysis of the strengths, weaknesses, threats and opportunities of the sides.
Strengths – Undefeated in their last 15 competitive matches, The Netherlands will be one of the stronger teams at the world cup this year, as per usual. With the vastly experienced Louis Van Gaal at the helm, the men in orange will be expecting to go deep into the competition. The likes of Virgil Van Djik and Matthijs De Ligt will be important figures in their defence.
Weaknesses – One of the main causes of concern for Van Gaal will be the lack of squad depth, especially in the attacking and midfield departments. The loss of Gini Wijnaldum due to injury will certainly be a massive issue for the Dutch and the likes of Frenkie De Jong and Memphis Depay have also been dealing with fitness issues of late.
Opportunities – Despite the shortcomings, the Dutch are the strongest team in their group on paper. Topping group A should not be too much of an issue. In all probability, the team will make it through to the last 16 with ease and their performance in the group stage will give them a lot of confidence going forward.
Threats – What should concern Van Gaal is how his team will perform when pitted against some of the heavyweights in world football today. There is no doubt that their squad is a decent one but against sides like Argentina and Brazil, things could very well go south in an ugly way.
Strengths – The host nation’s front line did a fine job at the latest edition of the AFC Asian Cup. The team has good strikers in Akram Afif and Almoaz Ali. Almoaz was the top scorer at the continental championship with nine goals and Afif notched up nine assists. Their backline was also solid as they only conceded one goal in the tournament.
Weaknesses – The thing about the Qatari players is that they have had little to no experience playing against the best players in the world, so it will be a challenge for them. There will also be the pressure of playing at home and delivering a good performance in front of the fans.
Opportunities – Qatar do have a fine team and although the battle for second place in group A seems to be a tight contest, their home support could just prove to the factor that tips the scales in their favour.
Threats – The team will be tested against the likes of the Dutch and Senegalese in the group stage and should they make it out, even stronger teams in the knockout rounds will await. If they don’t keep their heads, the hosts could very well be exposed, especially if there are any gaps in their defensive setup.
Strengths – If there is one thing head coach Aliou Cisse has instilled in his players, it is the attitude to never give up. Senegal have been one tough opponent to face for a number of sides that have faced them in the recent past. They are the holders of the African Cup of Nations and have the likes of Sadio Mane, Kalidou Koulibaly and Edouard Mendy in their ranks.
Weaknesses – The midfield is an area of concern for head coach Cisse as the veterans Idrissa Gueye and Cheikhou Kouyate are not what they were five years ago. Despite trying out different combimations in the middle of the park, Senegal are yet to come up with a stable midfield partnership.
Opportunities – With Mane up front, the goal threat will be ever present from the African nation. The Bayern Munich winger has the ability to turn the toughest of defensive lines inside out to create opportunities for goals. Against teams with shaky defences, Senegal will be a force to be reckoned with.
Threats – Reverberating with the midfield issue as mentioned above, the lack of a balanced midfield partnership can prove costly against teams that are very good at keeping the ball and passing it around in the middle of the park. Forwards might have to drop back to help out in the middle which could in turn drastically reduce the goal threat.
Strengths – The Ecuadorian defence has been absolutely world class in the recent past and it will be difficult even for the best of teams to get past their defensive setup. If their midfielders and forwards start to fire, they can certainly cause more than a few upsets.
Weaknesses – Having a strong defensive setup can also mean that the game plan will be more inclined to falling back and hitting on the break. This is a strategy that will put the team on the back foot against sides that have a good midfield and attack. There will also be certain matches where the South American team might be happy to play for a draw.
Opportunities – Ecuador’s strong defence will give its midfielders and strikers confidence to move up the pitch and create chances against teams that prefer to drop back. If veteran striker Enner Valencia fires on a given day against such a team, there could be an absolute treat of football for fans to witness.
Threats – The issue that Ecuador may face against ball playing teams will simply be possession. If a team is good in the middle of the park and enjoy passing the ball around, it will be very difficult for the men in yellow to get the ball back. This could prove catastrophic against the bigger teams.