Ecuador, Netherlands , Senegal , Qatar
On paper, this is one of the least challenging groups in this year’s World Cup, but there will still be exciting games and potential upsets. As host, Qatar will hope to make it through the group stage — 20 of the last 21 World Cup host nations have made it to the round of 16 — But Qatar doesn’t have a remote chance of getting through to the knockout stage and will likely finish last in the group. The Netherlands, without a doubt, are the strongest squad in this group and should be able to finish first with ease. They have two defensive rocks in Virgil van Djik and Matthijs de Ligt and plenty of young talent up front in attack. Senegal has lost their best player and leader Sadio Mane to injury and despite the talent they have in other areas of their squad, the team faces an uphill battle to make it out of the group stage. Their biggest challenge will come from Ecuador, who have the capacity to wreak havoc in this group. Moses Caceido will play a huge role in controlling the midfield for Ecuador and the veteran attacker Enner Valencia will provide experience and leadership as a big-bodied target man up front. They will also have the benefit of having one of the easier groups of teams to play against. Ecuador versus Senegal will be an important matchup for Group A.