Qatar’s final game at the 2022 World Cup pits them against the Netherlands on Tuesday at 3.00 pm at the Al Bayt Stadium.
Back at the tournament after missing out in 2018, Louis van Gaal’s side hit the ground running on day one, squeezing past Senegal 2-0 despite an unconvincing performance.
PSV Eindhoven’s sought-after prodigy Cody Gakpo soaked up the limelight as the competition’s revelation, having first broken the deadlock against the Senegalese before putting the Oranje in front against Ecuador last time out.
However, unlike their opening-day triumph against the reigning African champions, the Netherlands spurned a narrow lead against the South Americans in a lacklustre 1-1 draw.
Luckily for van Gaal’s team, they only need a point against already doomed Qatar to progress into the knockout stage.
By contrast, Qatar have dearly regretted taking responsibility for hosting the World Cup as they’ve already nailed down a place as the worst-performing host nation ever.
Having become the first host country to lose a curtain-raising World Cup fixture in the competition’s 92-year history, the Maroon followed up a 2-0 defeat at the hands of Ecuador with an equally frustrating 3-1 loss to Senegal.
Despite manager Felix Sanchez’s futile attempts to defend his team in the aftermath, the Islamic Republic could set another unwanted milestone this winter.
Unless they upset the apple cart against far more heavily fancied Netherlands, Qatar could become the first-ever host nation to lose all three group matches.
While waiting for talismanic forward Memphis Depay to start delivering the goods in the front third, the Netherlands may still rely on Gakpo to maintain their free-scoring form at the World Cup.
It’s worth noting the Oranje have scored three times from a mere four shots on target at the tournament, accounting for the fewest attempts on target in a World Cup group stage since 1990 (ten that time).
While the Netherlands’ all-time World Cup record against host nations reads negatively (W1, L2), this should be a prime opportunity for van Gaal’s team to gather momentum for the upcoming challenges.
Back at Al Bayt Stadium, where they lost to Senegal, Qatar will rely on their 100% win ratio across their three previous outings at this venue to inspire their bid to avoid another catastrophe.
Though they’ve proved that the lucky charm following host nations throughout history doesn’t apply to them, the Maroon can still call upon one last piece of good omen.
The host country had won their final group stage game in five successive World Cup tournaments before Russia succumbed to a 3-0 defeat to Uruguay four years ago.
Netherlands vs Qatar Head-to-Head
While this will be the Netherlands’ first-ever meeting with Qatar, they have fond memories of their four previous World Cup matches against Asian countries.
The Oranje boast a 100% win rate in such match-ups, having netted as many as 11 goals while conceding just one in return.
Netherlands vs Qatar Potential Line-ups
Netherlands (3-4-1-2): Andries Noppert; Jurrien Timber, Virgil van Dijk, Nathan Ake; Denzel Dumfries, Steven Berghuis, Frenkie de Jong, Daley Blind; Cody Gakpo; Memphis Memphis, Steven Bergwijn.
Qatar (3-5-2): Meshaal Barsham; Miguel Ro-Ro, Boualem Khoukhi, Abdelkarim Hassan; Ismaeel Mohammad, Karim Boudiaf, Assim Madibo, Hassan Al-Haydos, Ahmed Alaaeldin; Akram Afif, Mohammed Muntari.
Netherlands vs Qatar Prediction
With nothing but pride left to play for, Qatar should perform without any pressure, yet a substantial gulf in class between themselves and the Dutch will still be telling.
Netherlands 3-1 Qatar
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