Netherlands have enjoyed a resurgence under Louis van Gaal and are rated worthy favourites to win Group A. The three-time runners-up appear determined to make amends for missing out last time and are backed to see off Senegal, Ecuador and hosts Qatar.
It is 20 years since Senegal stunned then world champions France in the opening game on their way to the last eight and Sadio Mane's Lions of Teranga, the reigning African Cup of Nations holders, will be eyeing another good run after taking care of Egypt on penalties in a play-off.
Ecuador have qualified for their fourth finals tournament and, in between early exits in 2002 and 2014, they reached the round of 16 in Germany in 2006 after coming through a pool featuring the hosts, so La Tri will hope the omens are favourable for advancing again.
Qatar have been on an upward curve since being named hosts a dozen years ago and are ready to put on a spectacular show, but it may take more than home advantage for them to still be partying deep into the tournament.