How’s everyone doing in Russia and who’s already going home…

World Cup Power Rankings (2)

World Cup Power Rankings

  1. Croatia (+4) Team of the round! Croatia came through a tough group, humiliated one of football’s superpowers, even their much changed game 3 lineup looked cohesive. Warning- Croatia did similar things in the Euro 2016 group and then lasted one more game and since their semi final showing in 1998 they haven’t won a knock out game, at least the draw looks favourable.
  2. Uruguay (+11) Game by game improvement is a hallmark of a deep run at this tournament and Uruguay are doing that, they popped Russia’s balloon in a mere 22 minutes and with Suarez and Cavani on the score sheet they will take some stopping.
  3. Brazil (+7) Just starting to put, Neymar still isn’t at full strength but Coutinho may just be the best player of the first round and the team has few weaknesses, Marcelo going off injured is a concern.
  4. Belgium (-1) Hard to take too much from their reserves beating England’s reserves other than Adnan Januzaj is quite an option from the bench but his goal gives them a tougher draw.
  5. England (-3) Their reserves aren’t as good as Belgium’s but with Harry Kane still leading the golden boot chase and Kieran Trippier one of the emergent stars of the tournament it’s looking positive. But Jordan Pickford’s tendency to punch clearances back into the penalty area is a worry.
  6. Spain (-) A shockingly nervy performance from such an experienced side, Hierro needs to step up as manager to settle them down. Isco continues to excel and with Diego Costa in form Spain look favourites to make the final.
  7. France (-) Another side who’d rather have skipped their last group as would anyone who watched it! But they are the most talented squad here and now they have a heavyweight match to kick their campaign into high gear,
  8. Sweden (+11) And to think we all thought that Toni Kroos goal had finished them- Sweden produced a phenomenal 45 minutes to blitz Mexico and top their group, if Marcus Berg could find some form up front they’d be a dark horse.
  9. Portugal (+2) Continue to underwhelm but now face a b@$tard-off with Uruguay, It won’t be pretty, it will be a slog, but CR7 might just settle it.
  10. Switzerland (-1) Their usually watertight defence looked distinctly leaky against Costa Rica but with the threat of suspensions lifted
  11. Mexico (-7) Looked unsure if to stick or twist needing a point against Sweden. Then struggled to get their game together when things went wrong and needed South Korea to do them a favour. The boys from Seoul obliged and Mexico now must beat Brazil to make it to the mythical 5th game.
  12. Colombia (-4) Got the job done in a low-key game against Senegal and won their group in the process. Their attacking trident may have lost its central fork in James Rodriguez to injury and that would be huge blow as England await.
  13. Russia (-12) Awful! Russia made changes and shorn of Golovin they never got going and were early put away by streetwise Uruguay. It’ll be a very different team that lines up for the last 16 and getting this far makes their tournament a success but with Spain next up that probably will be that.
  14. Argentina (+9) Messi looked in the zone from the national anthem to the final whistle and they just made it thanks to Rojo’s late volley. This still feels like a side that could fall apart any minute a process that looks like being sped up by the comical presence of Mascherano but at least in Pavon Argentina have found a player on Messi’s wavelength and they’ll need to be tuned in with France up next.
  15. Denmark (-) Literally nothing happened in their group finale. They remain a robust side capable of countering through Eriksen but will start against Croatia as huge underdogs.
  16. Japan (-) Of all the ways to qualify making it on fewer yellow cards than Senegal is the most inglorious I can think of. But Japan earned their passage with 2 good performances in their first 2 games, does this veteran team have one last performance in the to beat Belgium?
  17. Nigeria (-3) So unlucky after a great performance against Argentina and a debatable handball claim being turned away. Nigeria paid the price for that lazy start against Croatia but it does mean they boast a 100% record when allowed to wear that snazzy kit!
  18. South Korea (+7) Gave the performance of the final run of group games to stun Germany- had Mexico done them a favour they might even be through! Heroic in defensive and pacey on the counter they merited their win and Son ends the tournament with a respectable 2 goals, meanwhile Kim gave new meaning to the term ‘taking one for the team’ I’m getting queasy just thinking about it.
  19. Senegal (-2) They blew it! Yes going out on yellow cards is daft but they knew in advance those were the rules and they lost based on them. Senegal gave plenty but I’d like to have seen more of Keita and they leaked goals at key times.
  20. Peru (+6) Got the goals and the win their attacking flare has deserved. Peru played the way their 70s teams often did and Carrillo scored a wonderful goal. Let’s hope we don’t have to wait another 36 years to see them again!
  21. Morocco (+3) Another side who played on the front foot and after out playing Portugal gave Spain a run for their money. Denied a famous win by a late goal but a fun side who may have gone a distance had they had a prolific striker.
  22. Serbia (-4) Their tournament will always be viewed against that awful penalty decision they should have got. Serbia played very well for the first game and half of the tournament but faded against Switzerland and never looked like they believed they could beat Brazil- plenty of young talent and a side to watch but lessons need to be learned.
  23. Germany (-11) What the hell happened here? Toni Kroos aside they’ve been dreadful, was it arrogance? was it the base camp? or are they just a side who’ve reached the end of a life-cycle and need to start again?
  24. Iran (-2) Are you Greece in disguise? I cheered when Europe’s dullest side had lost in the playoffs only to find their Middle Eastern equivalent had made it. Iran are a tough well organised side with a sideline in playacting, they deserve credit for their work rate and playing to their strengths but will anyone miss them?
  25. Poland (+4) Restored a little pride with a win over Japan but Lewandowski might be releaved to get back to Munich after a dreadful tournament. It’s been a strong era for Polish football but now’s the time to start over.
  26. Iceland (-5) After a promising start they never quite hit the heights of Euro 2016 but this capable young side aren’t going away- that tunderclap will be alive and well at the Euros!
  27. Australia (-7) Just don’t have the quality! Their team ethic is brilliant but they need better grade players to take it back to thre knockout phase ala Kewell & Viduka- they may just have found one in Arzani.
  28. Tunisia (-) Got the win they needed to restore some pride, getting out of a tough group was always a big ask but they did give England a tough time and Khazri did enough to escape from Sunderland, good for him!
  29. Costa Rica (-2) It was always a tough ask to match their achievements from 2014 but they worked hard and eventually got some goals and a point- another team now in need of renewal.
  30. Saudi Arabia (+2) They got a win! considering they started with a 0-5 drubbing that’s some going, carry on with trajectory and they’ll win Qatar 2022…maybe not
  31. Egypt (-1) Well Mo did get 2 goals and their 45-year-old ‘keeper got to save a penalty, that’s about it- well worth the 28 year wait!
  32. Panama (-1) Got another goal to take home but did concede 11 in 3 games, wow!
perisic.jpg
Perisic celebrates!

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