Qatar vs Ecuador predictions: Hosts to make positive start
- Hosts Qatar have been preparing for over a decade to play their first ever World Cup match
- Ecuador boast technical quality and defensive strength but lack a cutting edge
- Recommended bet: Draw
Hosts Qatar get World Cup 2022 rolling against Ecuador on Sunday, and the tiny gulf state will be quietly confident of earning an historic result.
Ecuador arrive as South America’s fourth-placed qualifier but are not close to the levels of Brazil, Argentina or Uruguay and, arguably, are not even the fourth-best CONMEBOL team.
The majority of their qualifying points are earned in Quito, where they have huge home advantage of playing at an altitude of 2,734 metres — 1.69 miles — and non-acclimatised visitors struggle for breath.
La Tri will still fancy their chances against a Qatar side who have never previously qualified for a World Cup finals, but they could struggle at sea level against a national team who have benefitted from an intense level of focus and investment over the past decade.
Qatar have a fully-fit squad to choose from and will be spearheaded by an impressive attacking duo of Akram Afif — a creative winger — and top-scorer Almoez Ali.
Former Barcelona youth-team coach Felix Sanchez is likely to line Qatar up in a 3-5-2 that gives his two star men freedom up front and has enough bodies in midfield and defence to control possession.
Ecuador have a few injury concerns, with Brighton’s Jeremy Sarmiento and Augsburg central midfielder Carlos Gruezo both likely to have to settle for a place on the bench.
Star men Moises Caicedo and Pervis Estupinan, both of Brighton, centre-back Piero Hincapie and veteran striker Enner Valencia are all fit and sure to start.
Ecuador have failed to score more than one goal in any of their last 11 matches and their record in their last five is one 1-0 win against Cape Verde and four 0-0 draws against Mexico, Saudi Arabia, Japan and Iraq.
Eight of their last 11 matches have been drawn either 0-0 or 1-1 and they lack a regular goalscorer — Michael Estrada was their top scorer in qualifying with six goals in 17 appearances and he has only one goal in his last 14 internationals.
All-time record goalscorer Valencia has hit just four goals in his last 23 international outings.
Qatar’s Almoez Ali was the Golden Boot winner when he fired the Maroon to victory in the 2019 AFC Asian Cup with nine goals in seven matches.
Ali went on to claim a joint share of the Golden Boot when Qatar were semi-finalists as a guest nation at the 2021 CONCACAF Gold Cup., while he also netted in the 2019 Copa America.
A huge amount of investment has been put into the Qatar team over the past decade and the hard work could pay off against a cautious Ecuador side.
While the likes of Caicedo, Estupinan and Hincapie are excellent players for Ecuador, they lack elite quality in the final third now that Valencia is on the downgrade.
The South Americans also play a conservative style that focuses on shutting opponents out rather than trying to open them up with flowing attacks, making a low-scoring game likely — under 2.5 goals will be a good option to add to your Bet Builder.
The Qatar team has been training together for two months in preparation for this World Cup and recent friendly wins over Guatemala, Honduras, Panama and Albania suggest they should put on a solid display in front of their home fans.
They can earn a draw in their first ever World Cup outing and are available at 2/1 with LiveScore Bet to do just that.
Qatar 2022 Squads: They Score, You Score!
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