World Cup Group Stages Preview: Group A Best Bets

Despite the controversy, the big moment approaches. The stage is set, and on November 20, the FIFA World Cup kicks off in Qatar. The hosts will play against Ecuador on Day 1, marking the end of a four-year wait from soccer fans all around the globe.

For the first time, the world’s biggest tournament is being played in November, bringing more unpredictability to an already unpredictable sport. Due to the tournament being played mid-season, many nations will be dealing with injuries caused during club soccer play. Star players such as N’golo Kante, Paul Pogba, and Heung Min Son are already confirmed out of the tournament, while others such as Kyle Walker and Alphonso Davies race to be fit in time. It will be a hard-fought battle in the hot Middle Eastern desert, and although it’s bound to be a strange World Cup, a month of incredible soccer awaits.

Odds to Win Group A: Netherlands (-200), Senegal (+350), Ecuador (+600), Qatar (+1100)

Let’s look at the group that will start things off – Group A.

The Netherlands (-200): The Netherlands are the favorites to win and for a good reason. They have the most talented squad and the most experience of the four nations in this group. The Dutch finished first in their qualifying group, scoring 33 goals and only losing one game. Led by Virgil Van Dijk, this Netherlands side has a point to prove after failing to qualify for the 2018 World Cup in Russia. Watch them breeze past the group stage with their eyes on a bigger prize.

Senegal (+350): The African nation is looking to build off its recent success. Fresh off an African Cup of Nations win, the Lions of Teranga have one of the most star-studded teams in the world. Unfortunately, Sadio Mane has been confirmed out of the tournament with an injury while being in one of the best forms of his career. However, with the experience, this squad has together, expect them to make some noise and battle Ecuador for that second spot.

Ecuador (+600): The surprise qualifier from South America is the dark horse of Group A. Ecuador has only reached the Round of 16 once in their nation’s history, but this year they have an exciting young core that can take over games. The South Americans can rely on their experience against tougher opponents through qualifying when it comes to making a game plan against the other nations of Group A.

Qatar (+1100): The host country opens its campaign against Ecuador on the tournament’s first day. Qatar is under immense pressure to perform in front of its fans as they are the first Middle Eastern country to host a World Cup. It is the country’s first appearance at the tournament, and their debut is expected to be a sour one as Qatar boasts the worst squad of the 32 teams at the World Cup. Don’t be surprised to see them lose all three games.

Players to watch from Group A:

– Memphis Depay (NED)

– Virgil Van Dijk (NED)

– Frenkie De Jong (NED)

– Ismaila Sarr (SEN)

– Moises Caicedo (ECU)

– Sebas Mendez (ECU)

– Hassan Al-Haydos (QAT)

World Cup Links/Upcoming Previews:

Group B – 11/12 | Group C – 11/13 | Group D – 11/14 | Group E – 11/15 

Group F – 11/16 | Group G – 11/17 | Group H – 11/18

Odds to Qualify from Group A:

Netherlands (-769), Senegal (-133), Ecuador (+100), Qatar (+425)

Best Bets for Group A:

Ecuador to Qualify to Round of 16 (+100)

As mentioned earlier, Ecuador is looking to reach its second-ever World Cup Round of 16. A young core featuring the likes of Mendez, Caicedo, and Pervis Estupinan, mixed with veteran experience from Enner Valencia and Michael Estrada, is set to take Group A by storm. Ecuador was impressive coming out of CONMEBOL. Competing with Argentina, Brazil, and Uruguay is more impressive than qualifying through Africa or Asia. Take Ecuador to qualify ASAP, as the +100 odds will change after they grab their first win on Day 1 against Qatar.

Qatar to Record Zero Points (+400)

Arguably the worst team in the entire tournament, don’t be surprised to see hosts Qatar crash and burn in its first World Cup. Easily the worst team in the group, Qatar is only in this tournament because they are the hosts. At +400, Qatar to record zero points is excellent value, as the other teams in Group A believe they can make it to the next round. This leaves Qatar as the team to get beat up on, and that’s precisely what will happen.