After missing out on the 2018 World Cup, the Netherlands is ready to return to the biggest stage in Qatar. Louis van Gaal is in his third spell as head coach will be ecstatic at the draw.
Holland was in pot 2 and they knew that any nation that drew Qatar from Pot 1 was inevitably going to be a considered the favorite to win the group. The Dutch are that team. The rest of their draw didn’t break as kindly, Senegal is the second-strongest Pot 3 team, and Ecuador is one of the tougher outs from Pot 4.
Senegal is bound to be a dangerous opponent following their African Cup of Nations win earlier this year, whilst Qatar is also current champions of their respective federation having won the AFC Cup back in 2019.
Ecuador makes up the other place in the group, having qualified safely in fourth place from their CONMEBOL group phase.
But the Netherlands will be favored to top the group, potentially setting up a a match against the U.S. in the Round of 16., a game in which they will be heavily favored.
Group A: Qatar, Ecuador, Senegal, Netherlands
Favorite in the group: Netherlands
Strength of the group (ranked first through eighth, with first the strongest): Fourth
Best match in the group: Qatar vs. Ecuador
The first game is huge for Qatar. Host nations typically do well getting out of the group stage — the only time that didn’t happen was South Africa in 2010 — so we’ll see if Qatar, playing in their first World Cup, can join that club. The Qatari side was strong in the Gold Cup last year, losing just 1-0 to the U.S. in the semifinal.
Ecuador face all the pressure playing in the tournament’s opening game, while Senegal have a deep squad and the Netherlands will strive to make a triumphant return after failing to qualify for the 2018 World Cup.
Netherlands World Cup snapshot
Netherlands were disappointed to exit Euro 2020 at the Round of 16 stage as they lost to Czech Republic, but they have won the majority of their matches since and will be hopeful of faring considerably better in Qatar.
Current FIFA World Ranking: No. 10 (February 2022)
World Cup titles: 0
World Cup appearances (last): 10 (2014)
How qualified: UEFA – Winners qualification Group G
Record 2021 W-L-D (Goals Scored/Allowed): 11-1-3 (44/11)
Record 2022 W-L-D (Goals Scored/Allowed): 1-0-0 (4/2)