World Cup 2022 tips: Qatar vs Ecuador - Stats point to low-scoring opening game

Check out our betting preview for the opening game of World Cup 2022, which sees hosts Qatar take on Ecuador on Sunday, November 20 (4pm kick-off).

Looking back at recent World Cups it's hard to remember any notable opening games. And the first game at Qatar 2022 looks no different. No doubt Qatar vs Ecuador will be forgotten as soon as it finishes at the Al Bayt Stadium, just north of Doha. 

It's an opening fixture which hardly gets the pulses racing as the hosts take on Ecuador, who are ranked six places higher at 44 in the FIFA World Rankings.

But as a betting event there may just be a sure-fire angle to get the tournament off to a winning start.

Looking back at the last 10 tournaments there is plenty of evidence to support a punt on under 2.5 goals in the opening game on November 20.

Seven of the last 10 openers have produced less than three goals, with five of those ending 1-0.

The three exceptions we will look at first and the most notable was in the last tournament when Russia thumped Saudi Arabia 5-0.

On the face of it now it looked like a mismatch but going into the tournament there was little to suggest a heavy home win.

Russia went into the match ranked 70th in the world, just three places below their opponents, and had a side ravaged by injury problems.

Stanislav Cherchesov's team had also not won in their past seven matches, but they made light work of a Saudi team who simply froze on the big stage.

The other two opening games which do not follow the pattern are Germany's 4-2 win over Costa Rica in 2006 and Scotland's narrow defeat to Brazil.

Germany and Costa Rica had never met before the hosts triumphed in Munich.

Goals from Philipp Lahm, Miroslav Klose (2) and Torsten Frings gave Germany a crucial victory, but not before Paulo Wanchope had given them a fright with two goals.

There was a gulf in class between the sides though even though the rankings saw Germany placed 19 and Costa Rica ranked 26.

Despite the close official rankings, there can't have been too many who punted on under 2.5 with 65,000 cheering on the hosts at the Allianz Arena.

And looking back a further eight years we come across the only other game to go over 2.5 goals in the last 10 competitions - Brazil 2-1 Scotland.

That was a mismatch in the rankings with Brazil the holders and ranked one, up against minnows Scotland, ranked 41st.

Craig Brown's side did remarkably well, though, and kept Ronaldo quiet, but fell to an unfortunate 2-1 defeat after Tommy Boyd put through his own net on 73 minutes.

That remains Scotland's last World Cup appearance to date and they almost managed to dig out an impressive draw. But again, even the most fervent Scot would not have gone under 2.5 goals against the mighty South Americans.

That leaves us looking at the seven games that went under 2.5 goals and three of those produced shock 1-0 wins.

Belgium shocked Argentina in 1982, while Cameroon did the same to the South Americans eight years later and in 2002 Senegal did the unthinkable against France.

A shock this time around would be a win for the hosts with the bookies favouring Ecuador to win the opening-day game and that could be a possibility at odds of around 9/1.

However, looking back at the last meeting between the sides in 2018, goals were the order of the day. The friendly ended 4-3 to Qatar, with Ecuador finishing the game with nine men.

But going with under 2.5 goals this time around looks the way to go.

Suggested bets

Qatar vs Ecuador under 2.5 goals

Qatar 1-0 Ecuador

READ MORE: Which star players won't be at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar?

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