Qatar vs Ecuador Prediction
20th November 2022
19:00 Qatar Time/16:00 GMT
Al Bayt Stadium, Al Khor
Current Form (Last Five Matches):
Qatar vs Ecuador Prediction Match Overview
In the tournament’s opening match, hosts Qatar will begin proceedings against South American nation Ecuador. This is the moment Qatar has been anticipating for twelve years since the country was announced as the host for 2022. After the opening ceremony concludes, the two teams will take their place on the pitch for the first match in Group A.
Qatar come into the match in excellent form, having won their last five games and scoring eight goals. They are ranked 50th in the world.
Ecuador are in more muted form, with a solitary win in their last 5, including four goalless draws. They scored 27 goals in 18 games in qualification but seem more goal-shy right now. They are ranked 44th in the world.
Injuries and Suspensions
Qatar: Everyone appears to be fit and available.
Ecuador: Carlos Gruezo has a niggle but will probably start.
Qatar vs Ecuador Prediction Analysis
Qatar play a 3-5-2 system, with their back three/five providing defensive solidity and a platform to attack and create chances. The wing-backs Homam Ahmed and Ro-Ro will be required to attack down the flanks. They will look to expose any weaknesses in the full-backs of Ecuador, Pervis Estupinan and Angelo Preciado. Ahmed is a talented young left-sided player, having already accumulated 29 caps at the age of 23. There will be immense pressure on the two Qatari wing-backs to get up and down the pitch, as Ecuador are a physically aggressive and direct team. They will look to expose weaknesses in wide areas through the experienced Enner Valencia and the exciting Gonzalo Plata. This is where Karim Boudiaf and Abdulaziz Hatem are crucial for Qatar – the two midfielders will screen the three-man defence and try to ensure that Ecuador’s front players and Carlos Gruezo and Alan Franco breaking from midfield, cannot get any joy in forward areas. Ecuador have been extremely goal-shy in recent matches and will have to increase their creativity to break through the Qatari rearguard.
If the Ecuadorians do get through on transitions, the Qatar defence is exceptionally experienced. Indeed, Abdelkarim Hassan, Boualem Khoukhi and Bassam Al-Rawi have accumulated more than 300 caps combined. Hassan is crucial, as he has both the reading of the game and the aggressiveness to snuff out any enemy attacks. He will also look to get forward when he can and start moves off for the hosts. Qatar’s attack has an onus on Almoez Ali, Akram Afif and Hassan Al-Haydos to create and score goals. Afif and Al-Haydos are very tricky customers, who will look to exploit the gaps between Estupinan and Piero Hincapie, and Preciado and Felix Torres. They and the wing-backs will look to create chances for Ali to score. Ali is a massive threat with 42 goals in 85 appearances for Qatar, including nine goals in their victorious 2019 Asian Cup campaign. He is dangerous in the air and very good with his feet.
For Ecuador, Hincapie and Torres must ensure they stop the Qatari wide men from coming inside to get one-on-one with them. Meanwhile, Estupinan and Preciado must not let crosses come in from the sides for Ali to attack. Their midfield of Moises Caicedo shielding with Franco and Gruezo just ahead looks intriguing – it is physically robust and sound technically. Caicedo will try to snuff out attacks from the Qatari wing-backs by shifting across as the defensive midfielder. At the same time, Gruezo and Franco will have to pick their moments to help Caicedo and when to break forward themselves. It is up to Estupinan and Preciado to get forward when Ecuador have the ball and assist Valencia and Plata on the overlap. Michael Estrada will give the Ecuadorians a focal point, and he will look to link with Valencia and Plata to hopefully (for Ecuador) open up the Qatari defence. Valencia comes into this tournament in excellent form for Fenerbahce and will look to exploit the gaps left by the marauding Qatari wing-backs.
There are possible reinforcements from the bench for both teams. For Qatar, striker Mohammed Muntari has 13 goals for the national team and is an able deputy for Ali. Mohammed Waad and Naif Al-Hadhrami are exciting youngsters who can be introduced to inject fresh creativity. Romario Ibarra and Djorkaeff Reasco can come on to freshen things up for Ecuador, with Ibarra being able to dribble past players out wide.
Qatar Key Players
Al-Haydos is a highly tricky player on the right-hand side, and he has been waiting for years to represent his country as captain in their home World Cup. Estupinan is much younger than Al-Haydos and has a speed and fitness advantage. However, he has shown at Brighton that he can be suspect defensively. Al-Haydos will look to cut inside Estupinan and move towards Hincapie to get shots on goal or play cute passes inside. He will also look to play in Ro-Ro on the overlap, creating a 2 v 1 against Estupinan. Going the other way, Estupinan is an excellent attacking outlet for Ecuador, so Al-Haydos must be mindful and attempt to track back. However, Boudiaf and Hatem should cover him.
Boudiaf is a very intelligent and tactically mindful player, and his role will primarily be to shield the Qatari defence. He must stop the Ecuador midfielders from finding little areas in the middle of the park where they can play it into pockets of space for Valencia, Estrada, and Plata to get at Qatar’s back three. His partnership with Hatem will be vital. Indeed, their double pivot is key to allowing the attackers some degree of freedom. Boudiaf will also be critical on transitions when Ecuador look to counter-attack. Boudiaf will have to cover much ground, but he is capable of doing so.
Ecuador Key Players
Caicedo is a very powerful, dynamic, and aggressive midfielder and also not lacking in technical ability. His role in this Ecuador side will be to shield the defence. However, he is also adept at playmaking and getting forward himself. Indeed, the three-man midfield of Caicedo, Gruezo, and Franco is very interchangeable. We should expect to see the three link-up and swap positions. Still, Caicedo’s primary responsibilities are to protect the defence and initiate attacks. His battle with Boudiaf and Hatem will go a long way to deciding the match. Caicedo’s pressing, passing, and powerful running at transitions will be essential for Ecuador when Qatar overexpose themselves. He will be vital in covering for Preciado and Estupinan when Ecuador have the ball and the two full-backs go forward.
Valencia is coming into the tournament in excellent goalscoring form, having registered 13 goals in 12 league games this season for Fenerbahce. Now in his early thirties, he is perhaps slower than he once was. However, he makes up for this slight decline in pace with superior football intelligence, trickery, and good decision-making. He will look to attack Ro-Ro down the Qatar right-hand side and go down the line on some occasions. At other times, he will attempt to cut inside and take shots on goal. He will also come deep to collect the ball from the Ecuador midfield three. Indeed, he is a very adaptable player who can play all along the final third. Ecuador have been goal-shy recently, so Valencia must bring his goalscoring form into the tournament if they are to have any hope.
Qatar vs Ecuador Prediction
Both these teams tend to concede possession, so we expect an end-to-end match with plenty of transitions. Qatar will obviously want to get their tournament off to a good start. However, Ecuador will be determined to upset their party. Overall, it should be a good curtain-raiser for the tournament. We think it will be a very tight game, possibly ending in a draw. Qatar may take the lead, but the South Americans may equalize to spoil their evening.