After four long years, the World Cup is here! Fantasy team managers may look at Group A to begin assembling their rosters.
Four teams from four continents will compete in Group A at the 2022 FIFA World Cup. Though they are the top seeds, the hosts Qatar will not have it easy against teams like the Netherlands, Senegal, or Ecuador, all of which include young stars on the cusp of breaking out.
FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022: Group A Match Schedule
|Nov. 20 (Sun)||Qatar vs. Ecuador||07:00 PM||Al Bayt Stadium|
|Nov. 21 (Mon)||Senegal vs. Netherlands||07:00 PM||Al Thumama Stadium|
|Nov. 25 (Fri)||Qatar vs. Senegal||04:00 PM||Al Thumama Stadium|
|Nov. 25 (Fri)||Netherlands vs. Ecuador||07:00 PM||Khalifa Int’l Stadium|
|Nov. 29 (Tue)||Netherlands vs. Qatar||06:00 PM||Al Bayt Stadium|
|Nov. 29 (Tue)||Ecuador vs. Senegal||06:00 PM||Khalifa Int’l Stadium|
Let us take a close look at each club and focus on the individuals on those teams that have the potential to be valuable contributors to your fantasy team.
Brief Team Review: Qatar
- FIFA Rank: 50th
- Team Manager: Félix Sánchez Bas
Since its independence in 1971, Qatar has participated in the World Cup for the first time. Additionally, Qatar is the first Arab nation to ever host the most prestigious athletic event on the global stage.
In the recent past, Qatar’s national football squad has competed in a wide variety of international football competitions to prepare for the World Cup.
Since winning the Asian Cup in 2019, Qatar has competed in the Gulf Cup (reaching the semifinals), the Copa America (playing in the group stage), the CONCACAF Gold Cup (reaching the semifinals), and the FIFA Arab Cup (reaching the semifinals), facing off against teams from countries such as Japan, Argentina, and the United States, to name just a few.
Tactics Overview of Qatar
It is anticipated that Qatar would use a counterattacking 5-3-2 shape, with the attacking tandem of Akram Afif (11) and Almoez Ali (19) slated to lead the line.
On the starting lineup sheet, other names that appear early are those of the midfielders Abdulaziz Hatem (6) and Hasan Al-Haydos (10), as well as the defender Abdelkarim Hassan (3).
The Qatar Stars League is where most of Qatar’s players compete professionally, particularly those who play for Al-Sadd SC.
As a direct consequence of this, members of the national team have developed a familiarity with one another that contributes to the formation of chemistry.
The Qataris are prepared to show the rest of the world their style of football thanks to the advantages of playing at home and having already been used to the warm weather.
Potential Player’s Fantasy Profile: Akram Afif
- Player Name: Akram Afif
- Position: Left Winger/ Centre Forward
- Age: 25
- Height: 1.77m
- Club: Al-Sadd SC (Qatar Stars League)
Akram Afif is the primary striker for the Qatar national team, and he currently plays in the Qatar Stars League for Al-Sadd SC. Akram Afif is the central striker for the Qatar national team.
Afif has played professionally in Europe, beginning his senior debut in 2015 with KAS Eupen in the Belgian First Division A. He has experience playing in Europe. In 2016, he became the first Qatari to play in the Spanish league after signing with Villarreal.
He was a member of the club’s junior squad. After that, he was loaned out to Sporting Gijón, where he played nine matches during the 2016-2017 season.
After that, he went back to play for Eupen in Belgium for one season before signing with his current club in 2018. In only 18 matches played during the previous season of the Qatar Stars League, Akram Afif racked up a total of 14 goals and 17 assists.
Because of his versatility, he can play center-forward, left-wing, and right-wing positions. However, the only position he will play during the 2022 World Cup is that of a left-center attacker.
If you are considering Qatar, Afif should be one of the first names on your list of potential players to believe since he is a lock to start for the Maroons and has a distinguished history of productivity in his local league.
Potential Player’s Fantasy Profile: Almoez Ali
- Player Name: Almoez Ali
- Position: Center Forward
- Age: 26
- Height: 1.8m
- Club: Al-Duhail SC (Qatar Stars League)
Almoez Ali is the other side of Qatar’s offensive pair at the tip of their spear. Since 2016, he has been a member of Al-Duhail SC’s playing roster. During the previous campaign, he played 17 games for the team and tallied seven goals and six assists.
Even though he is not as productive as Akram Afif at the club level, he has a solid scoring record when representing Qatar in important events. Almoez Ali set a new record for most goals in an Asian Cup by scoring nine times over Qatar’s seven matches in their run to victory in the 2019 AFC Asian Cup.
The goal he scored with a bicycle kick in the championship match versus Japan is widely regarded as among the finest goals ever scored in the history of the AFC Asian Cup. As a result of scoring four goals in as many games at the CONCACAF Gold Cup 2021, he was given the tournament’s Golden Boot title.
Brief Team Review: Netherlands
- FIFA Rank: 8th
- Team Manager: Louis van Gaal
The Netherlands will return to the World Cup after an absence of eight years, thanks to their successful qualification. Because it has finished in second place more often than any other country, the Netherlands is frequently referred to as the “Uncrowned King” (1974, 1978, 2010).
The Netherlands qualified for the World Cup as the top team in their group, finishing with seven victories, two ties, and one defeat. They had a total of 33 goals scored, making them the third-highest-scoring team in Europe’s division.
The Netherlands began rebuilding its national team after they could not qualify for the World Cup in 2018 or the European Championship in 2016.
It was successful, as Holland was able to secure a spot in the Euro 2020 tournament. The young team gained significant experience in a big competition, even though the Czech Republic defeated them in Round 16.
Tactics Overview of Netherlands
Louis van Gaal’s trademark 3-4-3/ 3-4-1-2 system has been used often since he took over. Captain Virgil van Dijk (4) and Nathan Aké (5) direct the three-at-the-back formation, with Jurrien Timber (2) on standby in case Matthijs de Ligt (3) is unable to return from his knee injury.
Denzel Dumfries (22) and Daley Blind (25) are projected to start as wingbacks (17). Frenkie de Jong (age 21) and Marten de Roon (15) of Atalanta BC will be relied upon to provide leadership in the middle for Barcelona after the loss of Georginio Wijnaldum.
The Dutch offense will consist of #7 Steven Bergwijn, #8 Cody Gakpo, and #10 Memphis Depay. Louis van Gaal disclosed his prostate cancer diagnosis in the lead-up to the 2018 World Cup. He had 25 radiation therapy sessions and is now healthy enough to lead the Oranje.
He will be 71 by the time the World Cup rolls around in 2022, so this may be his last performance. A revolutionary tactician and tireless advocate for young development, his work since 1991 has had far-reaching, beneficial effects on the sport of football.
Let us keep our fingers crossed that the Oranje can reach their full potential as a team and keep playing great football throughout the tournament!
Potential Player’s Fantasy Profile: Cody Gakpo
- Player Name: Cody Gakpo
- Position: Left Winger/ Attacking Midfielder
- Age: 23
- Height: 1.89m
- Club: PSV Eindhoven (Eredivisie)
Cody Gakpo is the most consistent goal scorer for the Netherlands national team since Memphis Depay was benched from the first team at the club level. Since the 2021-2022 season, when he scored 12 goals and sent out 13 assists in 27 games, the in-form playmaker has consistently improved.
This season he has taken his game to a new level, scoring nine goals and dishing out 12 assists in 13 games. Gakpo, who can dribble the ball with ease despite his height, is often used by PSV as an inverted left winger.
He is a formidable long-range attacker with keen eyesight and a keen sense of awareness. Although he has only played three times for his country in World Cup Qualifying games, he does not have much international experience. Gakpo was extensively linked with a transfer to Man United during the summer of 2022.
The deal never went through, but if he does well on the most excellent platform in football, he will soon be playing for a much larger team in Europe. That gnashing of teeth signifies his intent to take this event by the horns.
Potential Player’s Fantasy Profile: Virgil van Dijk
- Player Name: Virgil van Dijk
- Position: Centre Defender
- Age: 31
- Height: 1.93m
- Club: Liverpool (English Premier League)
Injuries prevented Oranje captain Virgil van Dijk from playing at Euro 2020. It is safe to say that the 2022 World Cup will be one of his final significant international appearances. He is not to worry about losing his cool in crucial games.
Recent seasons have seen him lead Liverpool to English Premier League and UEFA Champions League titles. Van Dijk is not only a world-class defender; he is also a dangerous aerial threat and can take set pieces.
One of the finest defenders in the world is Virgil van Dijk. We hope his skill and experience will help the Oranje retain clean sheets in the group stage, even if he is not doing well for Liverpool.
Brief Team Review: Senegal
- FIFA Rank: 18th
- Team Manager: Aliou Cissé
The Senegalese national football team is competing in their third FIFA World Cup. Football enthusiasts still talk about Senegal’s 2002 upset of world champion France. Since then, the Lions of Teranga have advanced to the World Cup twice in a row (2018, 2022).
After a 4-2 penalty shootout victory against Egypt, Senegal has been crowned winners of the AFCON 2021 tournament. The Senegal team has some well-known footballers who are now playing in Europe’s top divisions.
Sadio Mané (10) is out for the rest of the season with an injury and will not play in the 2022 World Cup. The loss of him will be significant.
Captain Kalidou Koulibaly (age three), goalkeeper Edouard Mendy (age sixteen) of Chelsea, leading scorer Boulaye Dia (age nine) of Serie A club Salernitana, center back Ismaila Sarr (age eighteen) of Watford, center back Idrissa Gueye (age five) of Everton, and center back Nampalys Mendy (age six) of Leicester all contribute to make this team a formidable opponent.
Tactics Overview of Netherlands
When in possession, Senegal often employs a 4-3-3 formation in which both fullbacks press high up the field. Senegal is particularly dangerous from set-piece situations, where they have a lot of experience scoring goals.
With this danger in mind, the Senegalese attackers will make several long-range efforts to win the corner. This is crucial since forwards get one point for every two shots on goal on the fantasy platform.
Aliou Cissé, Senegal’s manager since 2015, has the longest tenure of any coach in the group. His side consistently displays good morale and a strong will to win. Almost half a million people came to Dakar to celebrate the Senegalese team’s AFCON 2021 triumph, demonstrating the country’s undying devotion to the sport.
Potential Player’s Fantasy Profile: Ismaïla Sarr
- Player Name: Ismaïla Sarr
- Position: Wide Midfielder/ Winger
- Age: 24
- Height: 1.85m
- Club: Watford F.C. (EFL Championship)
If Sadio Mané is destined to miss the World Cup 2022 due to injury, then Ismala Sarr will have to bear a heavier load than he was hoping for. While Sarr plays in the EFL’s second division, he has experience at the highest level in England.
In 16 games this season, he has contributed to eight goals and four assists. Sarr is an adaptable player who can fill in anywhere in the attacking third. In Mane’s absence, he will take on a more central offensive position and is also one of Senegal’s primary set-piece takers.
Potential Player’s Fantasy Profile: Édouard Mendy
- Player Name: Édouard Mendy
- Position: Goalkeeper
- Age: 30
- Height: 1.94m
- Club: Chelsea F.C. (English Premier League)
Édouard Mendy was lauded as a national hero earlier this year as he saved a penalty from Mohanad Lasheen, helping Senegal win its first AFCON title. Mendy and his defense kept five shutouts and allowed just two goals in seven games throughout that competition.
And only recently, in a World Cup Qualifying P.K. shootout against the same opponent, Mendy stopped a penalty kick from Mostafa Mohamed. When new manager Graham Potter took over at Chelsea F.C., he demoted Edouard Mendy from the starting eleven.
However, once Kepa Arrizabalaga was injured, Mendy was reinserted. He will be keen to show why he deserves to keep his job at the World Cup.
Brief Team Review: Ecuador
- FIFA Rank: 44th
- Team Manager: Gustavo Alfaro
In the 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifying, Ecuador finished fourth in South America, automatically qualifying them for the tournament. In 18 matches, Ecuador had seven victories, five draws, and six defeats.
Qualification results suggest that Ecuador performs better on home turf, with a five-win, three ties, and one-defeat record. They recorded two wins, two draws, and five losses while playing away from home.
Tactics Overview of Netherlands
The Ecuadorian national team, coached by Gustavo Alfaro, used several different formations, including (4-2-3-1), (4-4-2), (4-3-3), and (4-4-1-1). It is anticipated, however, that Ecuador would primarily use a 4-3-3 shape, focusing on creating chances from the wings.
From their fullback positions, Pervis Estupián (7) and Byron Castillo (6) are counted on to direct the offense. Gonzalo Plata (19) on the right side and Moisés Caicedo (23) in the middle will aim to overload on the wings to gain a 3v2 advantage.
La Tricolore is in fine form heading into the World Cup. They have the new potential and seasoned veterans essential to compete at such a high level in such a significant event. From Ecuador and Alfaro, we may anticipate high-pressure, high-tempo, and aggressive football.
Potential Player’s Fantasy Profile: Pervis Estupiñán
- Player Name: Pervis Estupiñán
- Position: Left Back
- Age: 24
- Height: 1.75m
- Club: Brighton & Hove Albion F.C. (English Premier League)
Coach Gustavo Alfaro places a premium on having Pervis Estupián on the field. The manager likes to build from the wings. Thus Pervis Estupián will have a lot of chances to contribute to Ecuador’s offense.
Fantasy team managers should note that he is Ecuador’s preferred penalty kick taker. Estupián is a current Brighton football team member competing in the English Premier League.
He has established himself as a first-stringer and helped his team move up the Premier League standings to the seventh position between Liverpool and Chelsea. In the same vein, he will contribute significantly to his national team.
Potential Player’s Fantasy Profile: Enner Valencia
- Player Name: Enner Valencia
- Position: Center-Forward
- Age: 33
- Height: 1.77m
- Club: Fenerbahçe S.K. (Süper Lig)
Enner Valencia, the most experienced player on the Ecuadorian national team, will play center forward and serve as captain. Twelve goals and four assists in eleven games for Fenerbahçe in the Turkish Süper Lig show that he is in fine form this season.
When he represented Ecuador internationally, he was the team’s second-leading scorer in South American 2022 World Cup qualifying games.
Enner Valencia, the all-time leader in goals scored for the Ecuadorian national team, is also entrusted with taking penalty kicks. How well Ecuador does under the guidance of a seasoned politician should be fascinating to watch.