Ecuador vs Qatar Odds & Picks: World Cup Opener Betting Preview

Ecuador vs Qatar Odds & Picks: World Cup Opener Betting Preview article feature image

Robbir Jay Barratt/Getty. Pictured: Abdelaziz Hatim.

  • Qatar opens the World Cup on Sunday morning as underdogs against Ecuador.
  • The hosts present a potentially tricky matchup for the South Americans.
  • BJ Cunningham breaks down the matchup and delivers his betting pick below.

Ecuador vs. Qatar Odds

Sunday, Nov. 20
11 a.m. ET
Ecuador Odds
2.5 (+162 / -200)
-106o / -114u
Qatar Odds
2.5 (+162 / -200)
-106o / -114u
Odds via bet365. Get up-to-the-minute World Cup odds here.

The World Cup kicks off on Sunday with the host nation Qatar taking on Ecuador in a Group A match.

Qatar have been gearing up for a long time in anticipation of their first match in this historic World Cup. The small nation did not have to qualify for the World Cup being the host country, and they are understandably one of the biggest mystery teams heading into the tournament.

However, Qatar have a ton of advantages in their pocket, with a lot of them coming off of the pitch.

Ecuador come into the World Cup after an impressive qualifying campaign in South America, getting one of the four automatic qualifying spots in what is widely regarded as the toughest continent to get out of.

They are in a bad spot, however, with just seven days to prepare before playing their first World Cup match since 2014, so we'll see if the lack of preparation and the conditions have an impact on them.

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Qatar Take Advantages Into Opener

Qatar are managed by Felix Sanchez, who formerly worked in Barcelona’s academy. He has taken the team through three phases of training over the past few years in preparation of this World Cup.

The squad has a major rest advantage over the rest of the nations in this competition. All of their players play in the Qatari Stars League, which went on pause on September 14th. The 26 players that are on the World Cup roster didn’t feature at all for their clubs this season, as they’ve been in training with the national team with their full focus on the World Cup.

So, these players have had multiple months of rest and training together before this match. 

The projected starting XI for Qatar has over 1,000 international caps and each starter is averaging 92 caps, so they should have chemistry, as well.

Qatar did play the Gold Cup in the summer of 2021, where they performed very well. They drew 3-3 with Panama in the group stage, then beat El Salvador in the quarterfinals (despite losing the xG battle), before competing well with the United States in the semifinals.

This is a very direct, low block type of team. Qatar average less than five passes per possession, and most of them are long balls up the pitch. However, Qatar usually play out from the back and try to get the ball to their main man, Akram Afif, who will drop deep to the midfield to help start the attack.

What an amazing goal! ⚽🔥🎯

Akram Afif scores this laser of a goal to give Qatar 🇶🇦 a well deserved victory! It was the Goal of the Day presented by @ToyotaLatino#GoldCup21 🏆

— Gold Cup (@GoldCup) July 18, 2021

Qatar are not likely to sustain much possession in this match, but they have blistering pace going forward when they do counterattack. 

Defensively, Qatar play a five-man back line with the two wing backs pinned right next to the center backs. The three midfielders typically remain very central, which clogs up the middle of the pitch and makes them difficult to break down. Qatar hardly press and their clearances per 90 is one of the highest in the field.

Ecuador Bring Mixed Form Into World Cup

If you look through Ecuador’s results, it’s hard to establish how good this team is.

They did not have a good showing at the Copa America in the summer of 2021. Ecuador had a couple of draws with Venezuela and Peru before securing another draw against a Brazil team that had already qualified for the next round.

Then, Ecuador went onto the quarterfinals and got pasted by Argentina. To their credit, Ecuador played the hardest schedule of anyone coming into the World Cup, as South America is an incredibly difficult region to get out of if you’re not Brazil or Argentina. But, they’ve only had +0.04 xGD per 90 minutes throughout all of World Cup Qualifying and Copa America.

Moises Caicedo, sky the limit.

— Moby (@Mobyhaque1) August 29, 2022

What Ecuador typically try to do is attack down the wide channels through Brighton’s Pervis Estupiñán and Genk's Angelo Preciado.

In possession there are three midfielders which will create an overload in the middle of the pitch, freeing up space down the wings for the full backs to receive the ball and deliver it back centrally towards the box.

Moises Caicedo, who is Ecuador's most important player, tends to shade towards the side of the pitch that they want to attack the most and will link up with the full back to create a passing triangle. Caicedo is also one of the best transition defenders in the Premier League right now for Brighton. 

Ecuador are likely going to be able to control most of the possession in this match with Qatar sitting deep in their 5-3-2. They need to be careful of committing too many men up the pitch, as Qatar have a lot of pace going forward.

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Qatar vs. Ecuador Prediction

Given all of the stuff that has been happening off the pitch for Qatar, this is a tough spot for Ecuador. Qatar have had six months of training and rest to play this match, while Ecuador have only had seven days.

Additionally, FIFA moved this match up one day at the last minute to accommodate the host nation. I think it may be too much for Ecuador to overcome even though they have a drastic talent advantage.

This line has been on the move over the past two weeks, as Ecuador were as low as +105 on Nov. 7, but are now +150 on the three-way moneyline at most books. I still think there is some value on the host nation, so I am going to back them on the Draw No Bet line.

The Pick: Qatar — Draw No Bet (+120 via bet365

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