Sunday, 20th November 2022 is a day that has been marked in our calendars for a long time. That is the day that the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar gets underway. Fans the world over have been made to wait four months longer than usual to attend football’s biggest party. The scorching summer temperatures in the Arabian Gulf State – which can reach as high as 50 degrees – caused the tournament to be rescheduled for a milder slot in November and December. But now, the wait is almost over. Didier Deschamps’ France enter the tournament as defending champions after defeating Croatia 4-2 in Moscow four years ago to lift their second FIFA World Cup trophy, and Oddschecker, which compares odds and provides free offers on the World Cup, has made them one of the favorites again this year.
Should Les Bleus win the competition, they would become the first team to retain the trophy since Brazil managed that feat some 60 years ago. The defending champions’ campaign gets underway against Australia on day three, but it is days one and two that we are interested in. Here are our predictions for all four fixtures from the opening days of the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
Qatar 1-0 Ecuador – Group A – 20th Nov @ 19:00
When the World Cup was initially awarded to Qatar back in December 2010, there were fears that the Qataris would embarrass themselves in front of the world. Their striker, Fahad Khalfan, was going viral for missing an open goal from barely a yard out against Uzbekistan, and the planet was braced to witness a laughing stock. What a difference 12 years makes.
The Maroon have rebuilt themselves in the last decade. Former Barcelona coach Félix Sánchez has given the side an identity and has even managed to pick up silverware along the way. Qatar won the 2019 AFC Asian Cup and reached the semifinals of the 2021 CONCACAF Gold Cup, and we predict they will raise the curtain of their own party with a victory over Ecuador.
As we saw with Russia four years ago, home support is crucial, and we believe that this factor will push Qatar to an opening day victory, and who knows where beyond that?
England 4-0 Iran – Group B – 21st Nov @ 16:00
Does anyone really expect Iran to get a result against England? Gareth Southgate’s side reached the semifinals four years ago and followed that up with a run to the final of the European Championships last summer. Back then, many expected the Three Lions to have a similarly successful run this winter.
However, their recent UEFA Nations League campaign was an unmitigated disaster. That has caused some experts to remove England as one of their picks for the tournament, but we still expect them to comfortably defeat Carlos Queiroz’s side on day two.
Senegal 2-1 Netherlands – Group A – 21st Nov @ 19:00
Not many teams head to Qatar in better form than Senegal. The Lions of Teranga defeated Mohamed Salah’s Egypt on penalties earlier in the year to lift their maiden Africa Cup of Nations, and Aliou Cisse’s side will be looking to build on that success. The Netherlands are also a team in fine form. They have bounced back from a disappointing Euro 2020 campaign by topping their UEFA Nations League group ahead of Belgium, winning five of their six fixtures.
With that being said, however, we believe that Senegal’s time has come. With Sadio Mane leading the line, it’s very possible that we are about to witness the greatest performance from an African nation ever at the World Cup, and that run will get underway with an impressive opening victory.
USA 1-1 Wales – Group B – 21st Nov @ 22:00
The final fixture on day two of the 2022 FIFA World Cup sees Wales return to the tournament for the first time since 1958. They edged out Ukraine in a qualifying playoff earlier in the year to seal their spot in Qatar and have been given a favorable looking draw in Group B.
Their most important fixture is their first one, with the USA expected to qualify from the group as runners-up to England. We believe that the Welsh will be defensively resolute, however, and will earn a battling point against the Americans, setting them up nicely for the next two fixtures.