World Cup Group A: Dutch to dominate as hosts suffer
World Cup Group A odds, teams and fixtures
In our guide to World Cup Group A, we assess the prospects of the Netherlands, Senegal, Ecuador and Qatar as they bid to reach the last 16.
We also highlight the betting odds for each team and list the fixtures, including kick-off times and television coverage for all six matches.
The Dutch failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup but had no problems this time around, topping their group with seven wins out of 10 and scoring 33 goals in the process.
Memphis Depay was the main man with 12 of those but it is arguably in defence where they are strongest, with Virgil van Dijk and Nathan Ake at the heart of a backline which kept back-to-back clean sheets against Poland and Belgium in September.
Under Louis van Gaal they are unbeaten since their defeat to the Czech Republic at the European Championship in 2021, with Van Dijk missing that tournament due to injury.
They are firm favourites to top Group A and are 12/1 to win the World Cup for the first time, having been runners-up three times including in 2010.
Senegal head to the World Cup as the top-ranked African team in 18th place overall and they are seen as the team most likely to be crowned as the first African winners of the World Cup at 80/1 in the outright betting.
They made their debut at the finals in 2002 when a shock win against France helped them progress out of the group at the expense of Les Bleus, eventually suffering an extra-time defeat against Turkey in the quarter-finals.
Senegal’s second World Cup appearance came four years ago in Russia when they managed four points but went out on fair play points after finishing with an identical record to Japan.
Their hopes suffered a major setback in the build-up to the tournament though when Sadio Mane was ruled out due to injury. The Bayern Munich man was undoubtedly their star player and played a major role in February’s African Cup of Nations success. Now his team-mates must show what they can do without him.
Sadio Mane scored the decisive penalty for Senegal to book their place at the World Cup at the expense of Mo Salah's Egypt 😬 pic.twitter.com/HZ2anDNnlE
— Sky Sports Premier League (@SkySportsPL) March 30, 2022
Ecuador had never qualified for the World Cup until 2002 but are now making their fourth appearance at the finals.
On each previous appearance they have managed at least one win in their group but failed to progress in 2002 and 2014, while in 2006 they were runners-up behind Germany before losing 1-0 to England in the round of 16.
Ranked 44th in the world, they finished fourth in South American qualifying when home draws with Brazil and Argentina showed they deserve respect but two wins out of nine on their travels highlighted their limitations.
Former West Ham forward Enner Valencia is now the country’s all-time leading goal scorer and will have a key role to play.
Qatar are appearing at the World Cup as tournament hosts and would almost certainly not have qualified on their own merit.
They are not complete pushovers and have beaten Bulgaria and Guatemala this year, as well as drawing with the likes of Chile, Jamaica, Slovenia and Egypt.
It will be a surprise if they are not the whipping boys of Group A though and 4/1 for them to lose all three matches looks a better bet than anything more positive.
— Qatar Football Association (@QFA_EN) October 29, 2022
World Cup Group A fixtures
Nov 20: Qatar v Ecuador, 4pm, Al Bayt Stadium, BBC
Nov 21: Senegal v Netherlands, 10am, Al Thumama Stadium, ITV
Nov 25: Qatar v Senegal, 1pm, Al Thumama Stadium, BBC
Nov 25: Netherlands v Ecuador, 4pm, Khalifa International Stadium, ITV
Nov 29: Netherlands v Qatar, 3pm, Al Bayt Stadium, ITV
Nov 29: Ecuador v Senegal, 3pm, Khalifa International Stadium, ITV
World Cup Group A winner odds
Odds to qualify
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All odds and markets correct at the date of publication