Netherlands vs Ecuador
Khalifa International Stadium is the venue as the Netherlands and Ecuador go head-to-head in a top-table 2022 World Cup Group A six-pointer.
It took the Netherlands 84 minutes to attempt their first shot on target in the curtain-raising fixture against Senegal, yet they walked away with a 2-0 win in the end. That result forms part of their stellar 14-game unbeaten run in the World Cup group stages, accounting for the third-longest streak in the competition’s history. That alone should be enough to encourage the Netherlands’ bid to extend their 100% unbeaten record against Ecuador (W1, D1). However, they can draw further confidence from their World Cup fortunes against nations from the CONMEBOL confederation, having lost just two of their 14 such match-ups (W8, D4). Additionally, Louis van Gaal’s men have kept four consecutive clean sheets at the World Cup finals and could become the first side since Switzerland in 2006-10 to make it five on the spin.
In the meantime, Ecuador spoiled Qatar’s hosting party on day one as Enner Valencia’s quick-fire first-half brace inspired them to a comfortable 2-0 win. Despite facing the long odds here, the Ecuadorians will be keen on posting back-to-back triumphs at the World Cup finals for only the second time in history. That could be a deal-maker for their effort to reach the competition’s knockout rounds for the second time, last doing so in 2006. Gustavo Alfaro’s men head into proceedings on the back of several resilient defensive performances that have seen them keep seven successive clean sheets in the build-up to this encounter. But on the downside, the South Americans have picked up just two victories in their seven previous World Cup clashes against European opposition (D1, L4).