Four games are scheduled for day 10 — Tuesday, November 29 — of the Qatar 2022 World Cup.
Netherlands vs Qatar (Group A): 6pm (15:00 GMT), Al Bayt Stadium, Al Khor
Ecuador vs Senegal (Group A): 6pm (15:00 GMT), Khalifa International Stadium, Al Rayyan
Wales vs England (Group B): 10pm (19:00 GMT), Ahmad bin Ali Stadium, Al Rayyan
Iran vs USA (Group B): 10pm (19:00 GMT), Al Thumama Stadium, Al Thumama
There were a lot of firsts for host nation Qatar competing at their first World Cup on home turf: they became the first host team in history to lose their opening tournament match — they were also the first team to be eliminated, following losses to Ecuador and Senegal.
Qatar is facing a heavily favoured Dutch squad, sitting pretty with four points. The Netherlands need only a draw or win to progress to the knockout stages for the 11th time after a 2-0 win over Senegal and a 1-1 draw with Ecuador. They could still finish at the top of Group A.
Not much is on the line for Qatar — but they could possibly spoil things for the Dutch, only if the team can overcome their stage fright.
Another loss on Tuesday would see the first host team in history go winless through the World Cup’s group stages.
Speaking of firsts, it’s worth noting, the Dutch have yet to win a World Cup after finishing runner-up in 1974, 1978 and 2010.
Players to watch:
Lead Netherlands attacker Memphis Depay will likely be starting for the first time in the 2022 World Cup following a hamstring injury that left him sidelined for two months. He made second-half appearances against Senegal and Ecuador.
Netherlands player Cody Gakpo, who found the back of the goal in the first two World Cup matches, is also hoping for an improved performance against Qatar.
“I know what I’m capable of, but it’s always a challenge to reach your highest level that’s possible. And I think I’m not there yet. I think I can improve in a lot of things,” Gakpo said.
Ghana-born Mohammed Muntari made history last week when he netted Qatar’s first World Cup goal. Unfortunately, Muntari’s conversion has been his team’s only goal of the tournament.
Look for how Gulf legends, including Qatari captain Hassan al-Haydos, control the ball.
Ecuador, playing in their fourth World Cup, are on the brink of sealing their place in the final 16 for the second time in history if they can take down Senegal on Tuesday at Khalifa International Stadium.
A draw will also get them there. A loss, on the other hand, will almost surely spell a premature departure from Qatar for the young and hungry South American team, unless Qatar stages an unlikely lopsided win against the Netherlands.
“We have a bigger battle coming,” coach Gustavo Alvaro said after drawing 1-1 against the Dutch, in which Ecuador were the better team.
Senegal, too, are looking to punch a ticket to the World Cup’s knockout stages — a win over Ecuador would guarantee their spot. A draw could be enough to propel them to the final 16, but only if Qatar are able to beat the Netherlands by two goals or more.
“Our concentration must be better,” said Senegal coach Aliou Cisse. “We need to win to have a chance to qualify for the last 16.”
Players to watch:
Enner Valencia’s simmering hot streak continues. The star forward, Ecuador’s all-time leading scorer, has scored the last six goals for his team — in Qatar and stretching back to the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
Valencia caused panic after he was taken off the field late in the match against the Netherlands due to a knee strain he sustained in the inaugural match with Qatar.
“He’s the only one with World Cup experience,” Ecuador’s manager Alfaro said. “The rest are kids.”
Wales face slim odds at making it to the knockout stage after a stunning 2-0 loss to Iran and a 1-1 stalemate with the United States, as they head into their final Group B match with rivals England, who are fresh off a 0-0 draw with the USA and a 6-2 thumping of Iran.
Late to the party, first to leave? Wales, playing in their first World Cup in 64 years, have struggled to make a dent in their group at Qatar. A loss to England will send the team packing.
History isn’t on the Welsh side either; England has bested Wales in their last six contests. Most recently, Wales fell 3-0 to England in a friendly exhibition match in 2020.
The two teams have played a total of 103 matches since first squaring off in 1879. England has been victorious in 68 of those games, losing just 14 matches to the Welsh. Of those matches, 21 resulted in draws.
If Wales can pull out a win on Tuesday, it will be their first over England since 1984; even then, Wales’s hopes of qualifying for the knockout round would rest on the outcome between the USA and Iran in a separate fixture.
“It’s a tough task, it’s always uncomfortable when it’s obviously not in your hands and you’re relying on certain things to unfold,” Wales midfielder Joe Allen said. “But whilst there’s still a chance, it’s really simple for us. We’re fully motivated, we’ll sacrifice absolutely everything into getting a win.
England can advance to the round of 16 with a draw. A win, though, would cement their top place in Group B. They’ll advance as long as they can hold off a four-goal loss from Wales. They’d face a Group A challenger in either the Netherlands, Ecuador or Senegal in the knockout stage.
“When you win a game, you are the best team in the world. When you lose, you are the worst. That’s football. As players you have to keep a balance,” England forward Marcus Rashford said, swatting back criticism of his teams’ 1-1 draw with the USA.
Players to watch:
Star Welsh players Gareth Bale and Aaron Ramsey have failed to deliver thus far in Qatar. They will be eager to redeem themselves — and find the scoresheet — on Tuesday. Bale mustered just one shot on the net against Iran.
Yet Bale remains the lone Welsh player to have ever tallied a goal versus England in the 21st century when he converted a 2-1 losing effort at the 2016 Euros.
Phil Foden was called “the best footballer England have” by ex-Three Lions captain Wayne Rooney, who voiced dismay that the 22-year-old had been passed over for starting roles in the first two matches.
“I think if you have a talent like Foden, you simply have to play him,” Rooney wrote in his column for The Times. “He is now a different player from the one we saw at Euro 2020, when he struggled to make an impact.”
The USA is faced with an ultimatum on Tuesday: topple Iran, or go bust.
“It sets up our first knockout game of the World Cup,” USA coach Gregg Berhalter said. “We win or we’re out of the World Cup.”
The match favourite USA, who sit third in their group with two points and a 0-0-2 record, are still in search of their first win in Qatar following two consecutive draws — 1-1 and 0-0 finishes over Wales and England, respectively.
Iran, meanwhile, have never rocketed out of the group stage at a World Cup. The Iranians rebounded with a 2-0 win over Wales following their massive 6-2 loss to England.
Tuesday’s match marks only the second time the two nations have faced off at a World Cup. Iran trumped the USA by a slim 2-1 margin in 1998; the match, a seismic blow to the USA men’s football programme, was defined by building political friction between the two nations.
Prior to Tuesday’s match, the US Soccer Federation reignited geopolitical tensions when it momentarily displayed the Iranian national flag on social media. The emblem of the Islamic Republic had been scrubbed from the flag, with the US stating it supported demonstrators in Iran, where protests have been raging following the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in September while in police custody.
“We wanted to show our support for the women in Iran with our graphic for 24 hours,” the federation stated.
In response, Iran’s government blasted the US, accusing American football officials of removing the name of God from its national flag.
Players to watch:
All eyes will be on “Captain America” Christian Pulisic — the most expensive American footballer in history — to carry the team into the knockout stages.
Wales and England held the Chelsea all-star at bay but can Iran contain him?