The 2022 FIFA World Cup begins this Sunday with host nation Qatar hosting South American side Ecuador at the Al Bayt Stadium.
Venue: Al Bayt Stadium (Al Khor)
Qatar are the 80th nation to compete in the World Cup finals and the first debutant to host the tournament since Italy in 1934.
The hosts are unbeaten in six games (W5, D1 – including unofficial friendlies).
Ecuador are making their fourth appearance at a World Cup finals.
They have won the corner count in seven of their last eight fixtures.
They are unbeaten in their last seven games (W2, D5).
Ecuador goalkeeper Alexander Domínguez has kept six consecutive international clean sheets.
Head to head
Both sides have met only once–2018 friendly that ended 4-3 in Qatar’s favour.
Latest performances in all competitions
Despite all the controversy and drama that has trailed this year’s World Cup, the event will finally kick off on Sunday, with Qatar looking to record the first win of the tournament when they host Ecuador.
The hosts are playing in their first-ever World Cup final and will be desperate to make the most of it, having become the smallest nation to host the tournament.
Under their coach of five years, Félix Sánchez, they have opted for continuity and prepared for this tournament by playing numerous friendlies this year. They come into this game on the back of a six-match unbeaten run (W5, D1 – includes unofficial friendlies).
That sequence of games started with a creditable 2-2 draw against Chile, and since then, they have won four games in a row. Sánchez’s men have also proved themselves in tournament football by finishing third in last year’s Arab Cup as hosts, while they won the last edition of the Asian Cup in 2019.
They also got some experience in the Copa Ámerica and Gold Cup, which should help them against an Ecuador side who finished fourth in the CONMEBOL World Cup qualification standings.
Possible Qatar starting line-up
Saad Al Sheeb; Pedro Miguel, Bassam Al-Rawi, Abdelkarim Hassan, Boualem Khoukhi; Homam Ahmed, H. Khalid Al-Haydos, Karim Boudiaf, Abdulaziz Hatem; Akram Afif, Almoez Ali Abdulla.
Ecuador, who are making their fourth appearance at a World Cup finals, will hope to continue their impressive run of form when they take to the field in Qatar.
The South American side finished in a respectable fourth position in their qualification group thanks to a record of seven wins, five draws and six losses.
Since securing a place in the tournament finals, they have been steady in their subsequent games, too, going unbeaten in their last six games (W2, D4) and keeping six clean sheets in the process.
However, all four of those draws ended goalless, and so head coach Gustavo Alfaro will need to find the key to unlocking their attacking potential if they’re to become the first side to beat the host nation in a World Cup opener.
And with accusations that they have been bribed by the hosts to lose this game, Ecuador will be keen to win this game squarely to avoid any controversy.
Possible Ecuador starting line-up
Alexander Dominguez; Angelo Preciado, Piero Hincapié, Felix Torres, Pervis Estupiñán; Ángel Mena, Carlos Gruezo, Moisés Caicedo, Romario Ibarra; Michael Estrada, Enner Valencia.
|Qatar to win||Draw||Ecuador to win|
Qatar 2-1 Ecuador