After 1 game who’s flying and who’s plummeting. The rankings are based on teams game 1 performances not their chances of winning the tournament and there’s no doubt who gave the performance of the round…

  1. Mexico– performance of the round to stun Germany. Tactically smart they pinged the ball repeatedly past the German midfield and Lugano looks a star- the road to the 5th game suddenly seems less rocky.
  2. Spain– if that’s Spain in crisis what will they do when everything’s hunky dory? A brilliant team effort bar De Gea who surely won’t play so badly again. Isco adds some sparkle to their Ball hogging short passing and Costa has rediscovered his mojo. The early pace setters.
  3. Portugal– Ronaldo is on peak fitness and form- they’ll take some stopping.
  4. Russia– Absolutely brilliant, far far bigger challenges are afoot. They have more creativity than advertised but how Akinfeev holds the defence together is the key to their tournament.
  5. England– played more good football in 45 minutes than they’ve managed in the last 2 World Cups! Need to improve their finishing and defensive questions remain but a good start for a new look team.
  6. Belgium– a laboured start but a glorious moment from Mertens got them going, bigger tests await but a fine start for this hugely gifted side.
  7. Brazil– started brilliantly and when Coutinho got the breakthrough we expected a master class. But then they sat back and let the lead slip but there was more than enough here to suggest they’ll be there come the semi finals.
  8. Serbia– impressive! strong and powerful at the back with a creative spark in Milinkovic-Savic oh and Kolarov can still hit a mean free kick. If Mitrovic can rediscover his touch up front they’ll be dangerous.
  9. Iceland– are we now ready to stop portraying Iceland as a bunch of beardy chancers from the mountains? Awkward, difficult to play against with a cutting edge oh and a thunder clap! Oops there we go again!
  10. Iran– a first World Cup win in 20 years! Now just the small matter of Spain & Portugal to deal with.
  11. Senegal– for a side who played a cagey game things went remarkably well for Senegal, an own goal and a calamitous own goal handed them a 2-1 win, but with attacking talent to spare this felt like a side keeping their powder dry…for now.
  12. Switzerland– resolute in defence, functional in attack, the Swiss deserved their point against Brazil, can they do it against a side happy to hold out for a draw?
  13. Denmark– functional and Schemichael has now gone 534 minutes without conceding a goal. Eriksen remains the key but a win over Australia and they’re through.
  14. Croatia– sluggish start but got better with Modric pulling the strings, must be sharper to beat Argentina.
  15. Japan– a famous win albeit playing 87 minutes against 10 men. It’s a huge credit to a manager just 70 days into the job that he reenergised a sluggish team at half time and Osako’s header gave them only their 5th win in World Cup finals.
  16. France– Deschamps continues to struggle to fit all the pieces of this hugely talented squad into a team, 3 points in the bag gives him time to get it right, little doubt they’ll get through the group.
  17. Uruguay– playing badly and winning is a happy knack! But Suarez needs to improve if they’re going beyond the last 16.
  18. Sweden– got the result they desperately needed, unspectacular but solid. Now for Germany.
  19. Argentina-followed England, Croatia and CR7 into Iceland’s fairytale. Messi will have better days but Argentina’s collective must do more for a deep run.
  20. Germany– an awful start but improved on the second half. Loew suddenly has team changes to ponder and leaving Sane at home already looks a mistake. Every game now is win or bust- just the way they like it.
  21. Peru– played well, deserved better but must take their chances. Could they upset the misfiring French?
  22. Colombia– tough to assess after playing most of their opener with 10 men after Carlos Sanchez’s ludicrous red card. He’ll be a big miss in a tight group and James Rodriguez looks a shadow of the 2014 Golden Boot. At least Falcao looks sharp.
  23. Poland- 2 huge blunders cost them dearly against Senegal but it was their one dimensional attacking that looks more worrying, if they want to get Lewandowski free they need to find more creative ways of finding him.
  24. Australia– Did what we’ve come to expect of the Socceroos: compete, fight, ruffle some feathers and lose in unfortunate circumstances to a technically superior side.
  25. Egypt– Their supporters are great but their tournament hinges on getting Salah back on the pitch.
  26. Tunisia– tough and well organised but their only shot on target was a penalty!
  27. Costa Rica– no longer a surprise package, Navas aside they’ve regressed, with Brazil & Switzerland to come it looks like a quick return home this time.
  28. Morocco– showed some nice technical football but lacked any composure in the final third- the moment that summed them up best was a cleverly worked free kick in the first half that lead to a presentable chance and ended in a fresh air shot.
  29. South Korea– always qualify, rarely stick around and defeat to Sweden suggests more of the same.
  30. Panama– looked so far out of their depth against Belgium their players required water-wings! But no shortage of effort and the achievement was getting here- the experience will do these players a world of good.
  31. Nigeria– a shocker! Utterly lifeless despite a supposedly united camp- this dark horse will wind up shot in the paddock if they don’t improve fast.
  32. Saudi Arabia– inept, embarrassing, how did they qualify?

4 Comments

Leave a Reply