The opening game of the 2022 FIFA World Cup will get underway on Sunday afternoon when host nation Qatar take on Ecuador at the Al Bayt Stadium.
RealSport101's Harry Smith is on hand to preview the chances, tactics and key men for all four teams competing in Group A of the 2022 Qatar World Cup.
Team Preview - Qatar
The host nation of the 2022 World Cup has been preparing for this tournament for the better part of the decade, naturalising talent from across the world to bolster their chances heading into their month in the spotlight.
That's not to say that Qatar will be no pushover in Group A this winter though. 2019 produced the nation's biggest footballing success to date, beating South Korea and Japan en route to becoming Asian Cup champions.
One To Watch: Almoez Ali
Almoez Ali is far from a household name, but the Sudan-born striker will be Qatar's greatest hope heading into the 2022 World Cup. A lean, pacey striker with a ruthless finish in his arsenal, Ali could cause problems in Group A.
The 26-year-old has bagged 42 goals in 85 appearances for Qatar on the international stage, and included in that tally is a phenomenal nine-goal haul at the 2019 Asian Cup.
Team Preview - Ecuador
Ecuador's mere presence at the 2022 World Cup will come as a shock to many with Chile, Peru and Colombia among the South American nations that they beat to qualification.
Post-qualification success has been hard to come by for Gustavo Alfaro's side though, with Ecuador enduring tough campaigns at the 2019 and 2021 Copa America competitions.
An appeal from Chile regarding the eligibility of right-back Byron Castillo threatened to have Ecuador kicked out of the World Cup this winter, but they remain in the tournament and will hope to make the knockout stages for just the second time.
One To Watch: Moises Caicedo
Premier League outfit Brighton will have three representatives in the Ecuador World Cup squad, but none are more exciting than dynamic midfielder Moises Caicedo.
The 21-year-old was virtually an unknown 12 months ago but is now attracting interest from Liverpool following his immense performances under both Graham Potter and Roberto De Zerbi.
Team Preview - Senegal
Senegal head into the 2022 Qatar World Cup as the reigning Africa Cup of Nations champions after beating Egypt in the final in 2021.
The Lions of Teranga were tipped up as potential dark horses in the build-up to this winter's World Cup, but an injury to Bayern Munich star Sadio Mane has dashed their hopes.
Mane was still included in the 26-man squad by Aliou Cissé despite his injury status, but he faces a race against time to feature in Qatar this winter.
One To Watch: Iliman Ndiaye
This generation of Senegalese footballers boasts an array of world-class talents, but Sheffield United midfielder Iliman Ndiaye could be the one in line for a breakout tournament this winter.
The creative midfielder has been the heartbeat of Paul Heckingbottom's side over the past 18 months and has elevated his game to another level following the departure of midfield loanee Morgan Gibbs-White over the summer.
Team Preview - Netherlands
Louis van Gaal remains in charge of the Netherlands heading into this winter's World Cup, and the mood surrounding the Group A favourites is positive after they topped a Nations League group that also included a star-studded Belgium side.
There is one glaring weakness in this Netherlands side though, and it remains the goalkeeper position. Edwin van der Sar remains the last elite-level goalkeeper produced by the Netherlands, and the current options are concerning.
39-year-old Remko Pasveer looks set to be van Gaal's number one this winter despite having just two international caps to his name, while the other two 'keepers in the squad have made just six appearances on the international stage.
One To Watch: Cody Gakpo
Cody Gakpo was being linked with moves to lower mid-table Premier League clubs in the summer, but six months later his next move looks almost certain to be to an elite club.
The 23-year-old winger has registered a staggering nine goals and 12 assists in 14 appearances for PSV Eindhoven this season, claiming two Eredivisie POTM awards along the way.
Group A Prediction
Group A Fixtures
- Qatar vs Ecuador (Sat 20th, 4 p.m.)
- Senegal vs Netherlands (Mon 21st, 4 p.m.)
- Qatar vs Senegal (Fri 25th, 1 p.m.)
- Netherlands vs Ecuador (Fri 25th, 4 p.m.)
- Netherlands vs Qatar (Tue 29th, 3 p.m.)
- Ecuador vs Senegal (Tue 29th, 3 p.m.)