There’s little to choose between these two teams in terms of the FIFA World Rankings, with just six places separating Ecuador in 44th from hosts Qatar, who sit 50th. No team has played more warm-up games than Qatar, with The Maroon having taken part in nine internationals since September. They have won their last five, admittedly against relatively modest opposition. Qatar usually plays with five at the back, which has provided the solid defensive base which has allowed them to keep three clean sheets in their past four matches. It’s a similar story for Ecuador, with four of their last five matches having finished 0-0.
Facing the hosts will be a test for La Tri, who brings one of the youngest squads to the tournament, with an average age of 25.6 years. Of the previous host nations, only South Africa, in 2010, was eliminated at the Group Stage. Nevertheless, with games against the Netherlands and Senegal to come, defeat for either of these two teams will very likely bring their tournament to a swift conclusion.