World Cup Group A Odds , Preview and Tips for Matchday 1
The World Cup is finally here, with Qatar v Ecuador getting the festival of football under way on Sunday before Netherlands v Senegal wraps up the matchday one fixtures for Group A.
Ecuador and Netherlands are strong favourites in the World Cup Group A odds, but could it be better value to side with the outsiders on this occasion?
Qatar v Ecuador
- When? Sunday, 20th November
- Where? Al Thumama Stadium, Qatar
- Broadcast: BBC One
It is difficult to know what to make of Qatar, who are controversial hosts and playing in the World Cup for the first time in their history.
While home advantage should play a part, Qatar might well be out of their depth though winning the Asia Cup in 2019 suggests they should not be written off.
Qatar are led by a smart coach in Felix Sanchez, who has taken charge of many of his World Cup squad through various age groups.
The hosts have also had the benefit of spending much of this year in an intensive training camp to prepare for the World Cup, whereas a lot of other national coaches have had just a few days with their teams to get ready for the opening round of fixtures.
Warming up for the World Cup, Qatar have won four friendlies in a row and they also beat Ecuador 4-3 in a friendly a few years ago, the only time these two nations have ever faced off.
A key player to watch is Hassan Al-Haydos, with the Al Sadd forward having scored 36 times for his country. Al-Haydos is 4/1 to score any time and this looks to be the best value bet on offer for Qatar.
Unlike the World Cup hosts, Ecuador have a decent history at the tournament having qualified three times before, reaching the round of 16 in 2006 though they missed out entirely on Russia 2018.
Ecuador have won at least one match every time they have been to the World Cup. With Qatar seeming like the weakest team in Group A, Ecuador’s price of 13/10 to win with 888Sport appeals.
However, it seems safe to say it is going to be a tight and tense game on Sunday.
Qatar kept four clean sheets in their six matches at last year’s Arab Cup, while only one of Ecuador’s last 12 games has seen over 2.5 goals scored. Indeed, seven of their last 10 games have ended either 0-0 or 1-1.
While Ecuador head to the World Cup on the back of three straight goalless draws, they should have enough about them to edge past Qatar.
Moises Caicedo is primed to be one of the breakout stars of the tournament and he should have a big role to play in their midfield through the tournament.
The 8/15 with 888Sport for under 2.5 goals seems very likely to land and 33/20 for under 1.5 goals is one to consider too. Betting against both teams to score at 8/11 with 888Sport is also recommended.
The 5/1 from 888Sport for a 1-0 win to Ecuador looks a top option from the correct scores market.
Senegal v Netherlands
- When? Monday, 21st November, 16:00 GMT
- Where? Al Bayt Stadium, Qatar
- Broadcast: ITV
Senegal were dealt a major blow in the weekend before the World Cup with star forward Sadio Mane suffering an injury while playing for Bayern Munich. It remains to be seen whether Mane will be fit to play in their opening game and, if he is, whether he can perform at his usual high levels.
Quarter-finalists on debut in 2002, Senegal suffered a heartbreaking group-stage exit four years ago when they were eliminated using the fair play rule. They seem to have a fair shot at making up for that by getting to the round of 16 this time, though much depends on the fitness of Mane.
Senegal travel to Qatar as the reigning African champions and they have a decent defence led by the Chelsea centre-back Kalidou Koulibaly, but they are sure to be severely tested by the Dutch attack.
Netherlands failed to qualify for Russia 2018 but they got to semi-finals at Brazil 2014, four years after they lost in the World Cup final for the third time. Louis van Gaal is back as their coach, having inspired their last deep run in the tournament, with the veteran recovering from prostate cancer.
Netherlands are in fine form, having gone unbeaten in 15 matches and topped their Nations League. Many are tipping Netherlands as World Cup dark horses and 3/5 for them to start their campaign with a win against Senegal seems like good value at 888Sport considering Mane is an injury doubt.
Memphis Depay has become the key man for Van Gaal’s side despite the fact he has seen minimal game time at Barcelona during the calendar year. Depay’s international form has been brilliant, with the forward producing 23 goals, as well as 10 assists, in his last 26 international appearances.
Therefore, the 13/10 with 888Sport for Depay to score anytime against Senegal is highly recommended. Depay to score in a Netherlands win is a very good match combo option here as well.
Author: Jamie Smith