All you need to know: Qatar v Ecuador
Check out all all you need to know about the opening match of the World Cup, Qatar v Ecuador
Qatar vs Ecuador: Line-ups
Qatar Have Home Advantage
Qatar were not the only nation to become embroiled in controversy before the first ball has been kicked at the World Cup, as Ecuador were reportedly facing the threat of expulsion from the tournament after fielding an ineligible player in qualifying.
Nothing came of that, though, and the South American nation now prepare to make their return to the game’s showpiece event after missing out on a place at Russia 2018, but making waves at the World Cup has not been their forte so far.
Ecuador have already appeared at three editions of the competition in 2002, 2006 and 2014, but only once have they progressed beyond the group stages, being eliminated in the last 16 16 years ago, which also represents the sole time that they have won their first match of the tournament.
Clean sheets have been the theme for Gustavo Alfaro’s men in their warm-up period too, as Ecuador have remarkably recorded six shutouts from six games since the start of June, but they have only found the back of the net twice themselves, with four of those six matches ending 0-0.
Ecuador and Iraq played out the Tricolor’s latest goalless stalemate last Saturday, and Qatar have already faced their South American counterparts three times on home soil, recording one win, one draw and one defeat versus the side who will be intent on spoiling the party atmosphere.
Qatar certainly boast plenty of players who know how to make the net ripple on the international stage, and a first-ever World Cup game with the rapturous home crowd behind them will be of major benefit to the Maroon. However, a staunch rearguard has characterised this Ecuador side in recent months, and while that streak may come to an end here, the Tricolor’s star names can propel them to an opening-day victory.