In a little under three weeks, the 2022 FIFA World Cup will kick off in Qatar!
Canada Sports Betting will be releasing detailed betting previews for each group and the associated odds, brought to you
by bet365, alongside daily matchday betting previews throughout the tournament.
To start the series off, we’ll be taking a look at Group A.
|To Win Group||To Qualify||To Not Qualify|
Group A Team Previews
Qatar has waited 12 years for this moment. The immense infrastructure development, sports washing campaigns, and investment in its national football programs has been remarkable to witness. Sadly, this current era of players might have already peaked.
Their 2019 Asian Cup triumphant was a truly noteworthy achievement for a nation not known for its football pedigree. Reaching their highest-ever world ranking of 48 in 2021, the core of the team was built around domestic titans Al Duhail and Al Sadd. Ten of its 11 starters came from the two domestic teams with the nation’s entire back line having played together for four years before that.
This tournament might sadly be a year too late for Qatar, but the host nation will have everything to play for, and a strong showing will go a long way to appease a nation of fans who have eagerly anticipated this World Cup debut.
Player to watch: Amoez Ali
Ali is the player to watch for Qatar. The naturalized citizen is a goal-scoring phenom at the international level, announcing himself to the world after a spectacular 2019 Asian Cup showing where he matched the tournament scoring record of the iconic Ali Daei with nine goals. To date, he’s scored 39 goals in 82 appearances. If there’s a prop bet to keep an eye on during the group stage, Ali to score is a solid wager. Qatar’s attack goes through him, and if it is to get on the scoresheet, it’ll be Ali at the end of the goal-scoring chance.
Player to watch: Akram Akiff
I might have buried the lede here, but Akiff is far and away the best Asian player at the tournament. The engine of Qatar’s attack, Ali’s goal contributions are a direct result of the hustle and tenacity of Akiff. He’s faced some difficulties in recent years at the club level, having been pushed out wide to fit into his manager’s tactical philosophy. Nevertheless, at the international level, he’s been a magician, unlocking space in the opponent’s defence and finding pockets to manoeuvre and create numerous goal-scoring chances for his side. Get used to hearing commentary of Akiff to Ali in a grandstanding English accent throughout the group stage.
The young upstarts from South America, Ecuador will have the youngest squad coming from the continent with a team of fearless youth, anchored by savvy veterans looking to spoil the dreams of their competitors in Group A. In past years, Ecuador has relied on its defensive rigidity and battle-hardened tenacity to chase teams around the pitch and suffocate opponents to low-scoring results. It was all about grit and heart, built on the will of a nation that never quits and yearns for more. The desire is still there, but recent years have seen a talented crop of players moving abroad earlier in their careers and making their names in domestic leagues across the world.
Last featured in the World Cup in 2014, Ecuador’s recent run to the tournament has seen the national team perfectly blend its defensive roots with a robust counter-attacking style, fuelled by a youthful ignorance that’s battled through adversity and went on to shock perennial heavyweights.
Players to watch: Brighton’s Trio
I’m cheating a bit, but the name just sounds like a 1970s UK punk rock band. In recent years, Brighton has become a home to Ecuador’s brightest talents. Jeremy Sarmiento, Moises Caicedo, and Pervis Estupiñán each in their way represent this current edition of
Ecuador and its will to challenge the best nations head-on.
Sarmiento is the epitome of an impact sub. Quietly establishing himself at the club level, the winger is every bit a flair player, embodying the best of South American skill with a mean streak that is displayed through hard tackling and fighting spirit. Watch for him to change the tenor of a match whenever he’s introduced.
Caicedo will be in the headlines throughout the tournament. Already earmarked for a potential summer transfer, this tournament is the perfect opportunity for a coming-out party to potential suitors that will certainly quicken the earnests of top executives at the biggest clubs in world football. A modern-day box-to-box midfielder, Caicedo will be relied on to break up attacks and swiftly begin counterattacks that will hopefully lead to goal-scoring chances for the mercurial Enner Valencia.
Estupiñán, at 24 years of age, is one of the “veterans” on the squad. A Champions League-level talent, his performance against Liverpool was eye-catching, and a move to Brighton seemed questionable at the time, but the left-back has shown that he’s destined for the European elite after his brief cup of coffee in England. He’ll push the attack from the left side while also snuffing out any threats bombarding down the right side. Like Caicedo, a strong showing could lead to a big-money move this summer.
If this preview had been written a day ago, the majority of it would have spoken of Senagalese talisman Sadio Mane and his countless efforts of driving his national team to newfound success. Sadly, it was confirmed that Mane will miss the tournament with a fibula injury.
Nevertheless, Senegal has wowed the world countless times, beginning with its World Cup debut in 2002 and its shocking upset of a generational France squad. Luckily drawn into a weaker group, The Lions of Teranga will need to summon every bit of their majestic hearts to battle Ecuador for a second-place finish in the group.
Coming off an African Cup of Nations win over Mohamed Salah and Egypt, this is a team that has tasted international success and will not go down without a fight.
Player to watch: Ismaila Sarr
In place of Mane, Sarr will be relied on to drive the attack of the Lions and force the issue when the team reaches a deadlock. The Watford winger has been destined for greatness for what feels like a long while now, and at just 24, there’s still enough time for him to reach the heights pundits forecasted when he broke onto the scene in 2018. A tricky winger with lightning pace, Sarr will need to step out of the shadows of Mane and power Senegal to success during the group stage.
Player to watch: Edouard Mendy
The Chelsea keeper has lost form recently and has found himself watching more games from the sidelines, but as the bedrock of the Sengalese defence, he’ll be depended on to solidify the backline and keep the team in the game and buy the attack enough time to find
What can be said about the Netherlands? The team deserves its own breakdown.
Firstly, after missing out on qualification for the 2018 World Cup, this Dutch team has a lot of naysayers to prove wrong. While the heydays of Dutch soccer may be behind us for the time being, a team that boasts the likes of Memphis Depay, Frenkie De Jong, and Virgil Van Dijk shouldn’t have a lot of trouble qualifying and excelling at an international tournament. The history and legacy of the Dutch team can’t be questioned.
However, this current cycle of players has lacked a true leader with the charisma and skill to inspire a nation to success. While its last run at the World Cup finished with a heartbreaking third-place finish, the core of that team has aged out and/or retired. This current squad will need to reach into the past and find its inner Cruyff, and channel the Total Football style that revolutionized the way soccer was played in the 1990s.
Player to watch: Memphis Depay
His form in 2021 manifested a move to FC Barcelona, thanks in part to former Netherlands manager Ronald Koeman at the helm of the club, but Depay used his spell in France to transform himself into a scoring juggernaut. While Wout Weghorst, Vincent Janssen, and the upcoming Cody Gakpo are all credible threats in front of the goal, it’ll be Depay who forces the issue and creates chances for his teammates. Currently, on the fringes of the Barca team, a stellar run could be the perfect opportunity for Depay to attract suitors in the January window.
Player to watch: Virgil Van Dijk
The Liverpool captain has dominated the domestic game in recent years. A stellar career with many accolades, this is Van Dijks’ one chance, based on age and his current form, to establish the Dutch side at the international level and cement his name in the history
books. He’ll be depended on to fortify and lead the Dutch team to success. A sneaky goal threat from set pieces, he’ll be jockeying for a goal against teams that aren’t equipped with a menacing presence in the 18-yard box to contain him.
Group A Winner Odds
|To Win Group||To Qualify||To Not Qualify|
With the injury to Mane, the Netherlands should rise to the top of the group standings. Already earmarked for first place, the Dutch need to use the group stage as an opportunity to find cohesion and settle into a lineup that will be ready for the knockout rounds. If the Netherlands wins its first two games, expect it to make significant lineup changes in the final group stage match against Qatar.
Unfortunately, without the aforementioned Mane, I’m backing Ecuador to grasp the opportunity and push the tempo in its match against Senegal and chase after a second-place finish.
I’d expect Senegal’s odds to win the group to change before the tournament starts. The loss of Mane, and the lack of a clear attacking identity without him, will push this team to experiment and quickly adapt its tactical philosophy to salvage a satisfactory showing in the
The host nation is here for a good time, but not a long time. A true longshot, if Qatar can get a result against Ecuador, qualification will come down to its final match against the Netherlands. If the Dutch side gets through to the next round after its first two games, the Qataris could find themselves with an opportunity to pull off a once-in-a-lifetime upset.
Group A World Cup Winner Odds
Honesty, the winner of the World Cup isn’t in this group. However, the Netherlands does deserve respect and if its able to showcase team chemistry and the will to attack opponents, the squad may end up surprising a few teams in the late stages of the tournament. Everything depends on the health of Depay and if the team can uncover a hidden gem that bursts onto the scene and grabs the moment. Again, highly unlikely, but if you’re looking for an eventual winner, the only logical choice is the Dutch.
Purely a throwaway bet, if Ecuador wins the tournament, this edition of the World Cup will go down in the history books. We’ll hear about it on every news outlet and it’ll become the prime question at trivia nights for years to come.
Group A Prop Betting Odds
Why not bet on the tournament starting with some fireworks? Qatar will be anxious to get out to a quick start to appease the home fans, and the young team from Ecuador may be overwhelmed with nerves early in the tournament-opening match between the two sides on Nov. 20. Throw a bet on an “Early Goal” before 33:00 in the match at -120.
Another likely outcome could be to wager on the Netherlands “To Reach Quarter-Final” at -138. As the likely winners of Group A, the Netherlands would then play the second-place nation from Group B, which should be either Wales or the United States. The Dutch should trample either of those potential opponents to advance to the quarterfinals.
Group A Soccer Betting Final Thoughts
Group A will certainly have its moments. Sadly, with the loss of Mane, it appears the Netherlands is destined to finish at the top of the group without much difficulty. However, the stage is set for Ecuador to seize the opportunity and use this cycle to build momentum for the 2026 World Cup and other major international tournaments. Qatar will bask in the glamour of its first world cup appearance and is on track to put on a wildly successful spectacle. If there is magic in the world, Senegal will conjure it and give us a tournament to remember.