1.50 Newbury - Friday
Horse Racing analyst Will Smith has had a good look at all this weekend's ante-post markets, and provides a 7/1 EW selection in the Grade 2 novices' chase at Newbury on Friday.
On the 2nd of December 2010, almost 12 years prior to the tournament getting underway, it was announced that Qatar would be the hosts of the 2022 World Cup. The country will be the first Arab state to host the World Cup and significant developments have been undertaken in preparation for the competition.
Seven of the eight stadiums that will host matches have been built especially for the tournament and Qatar will also feature a new airport, new metro and new roads to accommodate tourists.
The World Cup is typically held during the northern hemisphere summer months but as temperatures in Qatar can reach 50°C during this time, it was decided that the tournament would take place throughout November & December when the average temperature is around 24°C. Stadiums also have state of the art air conditioning installed which regulate the temperatures throughout for both the players and the spectators.
Hosts of the World Cup generally fair quite well in the tournament as shown in previous tournaments:
Host Nation Performances
However, Qatar are big outsiders for the tournament, priced as high as 350/1 with some bookies and are also 20/1 underdogs to win their group and so we could very well see the hosts crash at the first hurdle for just the second time in the tournaments history.
Ecuador finished fourth out of ten is the South American qualification table (CONMEBOL) despite being the team with the second-lowest FIFA ranking at the time (64). They’re now ranked 46th which is in the same region as the likes of Slovakia, Turkey and Republic of Ireland, and will look to better their Round of 16 finish that they achieved in 2006.
This is the fourth World Cup finals that Ecuador will be participating in and they’ll be fairly pleased with being drawn into Group A along with the Netherlands, Senegal and hosts, Qatar.
Date of Tips: 26/04/2022
Disclaimer The odds for these selections were correct at the time of publishing (11:22 26/04/2022) but may have changed since. Please check the latest price before placing your bet.
If either of these two sides are to make it through to the knockout stages of the tournament then winning this match would give them a huge advantage. Neither are expected to beat the Netherlands and Senegal will be a tough match for them also.
In terms of rankings, there’s not much between the two with Ecuador ranked 46 in the world and Qatar 51. Qatar do have the advantage of being the hosts which will surely give them a boost in their opening match but this is their first ever World Cup and it’s yet to be seen how they’ll respond to that.
At the time of writing, Qatar are priced at 11/4 for the win, Ecuador 5/4 and the draw 5/2.
It’s a tough one to call but I’d have to side with the draw based on those prices.
Neither side will want to lose this match given what is at stake and I think they may have to settle for a point each and take their chances against Senegal in later matches.
Ecuador registered 27 goals in 18 matches during qualifying which is five more than Uruguay and the same as Argentina who both finished above them. Therefore, I think BTTS is also a reasonable bet at odds of Evens.
Given this is the opening match of the tournament, I expect a cagey and low-scoring affair. With Ecuador capable of goals and Qatar not wanting to disappoint the home nation, I think a 1-1 draw would be a likely outcome.
This isn’t a market that stands out as a betting opportunity in this game. I’m not confident enough of either side to score multiple goals and so BTTS could go either way. I’ll leave this one for this match.
Michael Estrada was Ecuador’s top scorer throughout their World Cup qualifying campaign and if I had to pick a player to get on the scoresheet in the opening game, it would be him.
Estrada found the net 4 times in 16 matches for MLS club D.C United this season before moving to Toluca where he was loaned out to CD Cruz Azul and scored 3 times in 8 appearances.
Draw/Draw is my prediction for the HT/FT market. Opening matches of major tournaments are often very cagey and I can’t see either side running away with the game.
Ecuador received a lot of cards throughout their qualifying campaign for the World Cup and I can see them doing the same throughout their time in the tournament. I think Ecuador to pick up the most cards against Qatar is a solid bet.
The lineups for Qatar vs Ecuador will be published closer to kick-off.
Goalkeepers: Saad Al Sheeb (Al-Sadd), Meshaal Barsham (Al-Sadd), Yousuf Hassan (Al-Gharafa).
Defenders: Pedro Miguel (Al-Sadd), Musaab Khidir (Al-Sadd), Tarek Salman (Al-Sadd), Bassam Al Rawi (Al-Duhail), Boualem Khoukhi (Al-Sadd), Abdelkarim Hassan (Al-Sadd), Homam Al Amin (Al-Gharafa), Jassim Gabir (Al-Arabi).
Midfielders: Ali Asad (Al-Sadd), Assim Madibo (Al-Duhail), Mohammed Waad (Al-Sadd), Salem Al Hajri (Al-Sadd), Mustafa Meshaal (Al-Sadd), Karim Boudiaf (Al-Duhail), Abdulaziz Hatim (Al-Rayyan), Ismaeel Mohammad (Al-Duhail).
Forwards: Naif Al Hadhrami (Al-Rayyan), Ahmed Alaa (Al-Gharafa), Hassan Al Haydos (Al-Sadd), Khalid Muneer (Al-Wakrah), Akram Afif (Al-Sadd), Almoez Ali (Al-Duhail), Mohammed Muntari (Al-Duhail).
Goalkeepers: Alexander Dominguez (Liga de Quito), Hernan Galindez (Aucas), Moises Ramirez (Independiente del Valle).
Defenders: Pervis Estupinan (Brighton & Hove Albion), Angelo Preciado (Gent), Piero Hincapie (Bayer Leverkusen), Xavier Arreaga (Seattle Sounders), Diego Palacios (Los Angeles FC), Jackson Porozo (Troyes), Robert Arboleda (Sao Paulo), Felix Torres (Santos Laguna), William Pacho (Royal Antwerp FC).
Midfielders: Moises Caicedo (Brighton), Jose Cifuentes (Los Angeles FC), Alan Franco (Talleres), Jhegson Mendez (Los Angeles FC), Carlos Gruezo (Augsburg), Gonzalo Plata (Valladolid), Angel Mena (Leon), Ayrton Preciado (Santos Laguna), Romario Ibarra (Pachuca), Jeremy Sarmiento (Brighton)
Strikers: Enner Valencia (Fenerbahce), Michael Estrada (Cruz Azul), Djorkaeff Reasco (Newell’s Old Boys), Kevin Rodriguez (Imbabura SC)