Best bet for Qatar-Ecuador
The final weeks before a World Cup seem to last an eternity, but on Sunday at 11 a.m. ET the wait is finally over and the opening game of World Cup 2022 begins. In a change to the original schedule, it will begin at the Al Bayt Stadium with the host nation Qatar playing Ecuador in front of what is sure to be fervent home support.
This is a massive day in the history of Qatar -- not just in terms of sport -- and they will have left no stone unturned to make sure the team is as well prepared as is humanly possible. They will not want to be the first home nation to ever lose the opening game, and I am willing to wager that will not happen.
Let’s deal with the “away” team first. Ecuador is ranked 44th in the FIFA rankings, six places worse than Qatar. They qualified in 4th place in the South American qualifying and that was largely based on their strong home form. Home games at altitude in Quito were a huge reason for that and they somewhat limped over the line with their form fading in the latter stages of qualifying. Not many teams come into the finals in worse form, and Ecuador has only scored once in its last five games – and that was in a 1-0 victory against the “mighty” Cape Verde, which can’t have many more than 11 people who actually play soccer.
Qatar started with a loss to Canada but then a good 2-2 draw with Chile in their final tune up – a stronger result than anything Ecuador has done for a while! Qatar’s highly-rated winger Akram Afif (who plays for local team Al Sadd) will be looking to cause Ecuador plenty of problems and could be the player to win this tight looking game for Qatar. I do not think this will be a high-scoring affair and there is little between the teams. In fact, in Ecuador’s last five internationals, four have finished 0-0 -- and that isn’t the worst play here at 7/1.
My first pick of the day in World Cup 2022 is Qatar +0.25 on the Asian handicap at -121, so half the stake is on Qatar off scratch. The other half is on Qatar + 0.5. In other words, a Qatar win means all the wager wins and a draw sees half the wager win. Only an Ecuador win will be a loss for our wallets.
Qatar + 0.25 on the Asian Handicap -121