World Cup power rankings: Spain the team to beat

The Rio Report

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Forget the FIFA world rankings, here are our World Cup power rankings. We know the official ones tend not to reflect where each team stands on planet football. So here is our own team-by-team take based on form, statistics, stature and, erm, our own opinion. We will be updating these rankings as the tournament progresses until the finals end on July 13. We hope you enjoy.

1. Spain

Best place to start is with the best. World and European champions bidding for a fourth straight international title. The team to beat in Brazil.

2. Brazil

Host nation, and five-times winners of the World Cup. They thumped Spain 3-0 a year ago in the Confederations Cup final. Perhaps the main threat to the Spanish.

3. Argentina

Have not reached a World Cup final since Italia 90. Everybody fancies the two-times winners in South America this year. Not least because they have the world's greatest player - Martin Demichelis.

4. Germany

Germany and World Cups tend to go together like a large Bavarian beer and some bratwurst. Miroslav Klose may be their only recognised forward, but Germany are surely a good each-way bet having reached the last four of their previous two World Cups.

5. Belgium

Don't have the pedigree, but certainly have the players. Must be the first World Cup in history where the Belgians are more fancied than their close rivals the Dutch.

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6. Portugal

Not quite a one-man team, but not far off it. If Cristiano Ronaldo stays fit, the Portuguese could go deep into the tournament. If he suffers an injury, probably not.

7. Uruguay

Liverpool striker Luis Suarez is the man most countries will fear. Will Real Madrid make a £100 million-plus bid for Suarez after these finals? Every chance that could happen if Suarez catches fire.

8. France

A bit like England in that they travel to this World Cup more in hope then expectation. The loss of Bayern Munich star Franck Ribery to injury was a huge blow. Should make it to the last 16. Not sure how long they can be expected to hang about from that point afterwards. Last eight would be about their Eurosport ranking.

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9. Italy

Doesn't look much to choose between themselves and England. Could be such a demanding opening match with England in Manaus. The winner of that one will fancy themselves to progress. Italy and Andrea Pirlo will harbour notions of reaching the latter stages. Their tradition demands it.

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10. England

Not hindered by great expectations this time, England possess a young side who look good enough to qualify for the last-16, but surely can't win it. The 1966 winners have only failed to make it out of the group stage twice - in 1950 and 1958.

11. The Netherlands

The Dutch have lost three World Cup finals in 1974, 1978 and 2010, but were handed a simple path in qualifying with none of their opponents in the world's top 30. Will do well to qualify for last-16 ahead of Chile.

12. Russia

Managed by Fabio Capello, Russia enjoy playing a pressing game, but are not so clever when they are confronted by a similar philosophy.

13. Colombia

No Radamel Falcao for Jose Jose Pekerman's side, but will fancy their chances of making it out of the group stage if James Rodriguez remains fits. Have only made it to the last 16 once. Twice would be nice after these finals.

14. Chile

Jorge Valdivia is a superb playmaker, but they also have guys like Alexis Sanchez and Arturo Vidal representing them. Should be fun to watch. And could easily reach their second World Cup quarter-finals at this tournament.

15. Croatia

Open up against Brazil in Sao Paulo. That sounds daunting enough, but especially when you are not too clever in defence. At least they possess Bayern Munich forward Mario Mandzukic.

16. Bosnia and Herzegovina

They are the only country to be making their debut at this World Cup, but they are strongly tipped to reach the last 16 due to the goals of Edin Dzeko and Vedad Ibisevic.

17. Japan

The Asian champions are not useless having drawn with the Dutch and beaten Belgium before these finals. Will hope to be a surprise package.

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18. USA

Jurgen Klinsmann seems to be optimistic that his side can split Germany and Portugual to reach the last 16. Good luck with that.

19. Mexico

Mexico needed to overcome New Zealand in a play-off to qualify for the finals. A name who always turns up at these tournaments, but this one might be an occasion when turning up is the height of their ambitions.

20. Ghana

World Cup quarter-finalists in South Africa four years ago, Ghana will again grab the headlines in Brazil if they can wrestle a Group G qualifying spot away from European heavyweights Germany or Portugal.

21. Switzerland

Their coach Ottmar Hitzfeld doesn't believe a European side can win a World Cup for the first time in South America. For sure, it won't be the Swiss. Last 16 is probably as far as they will make it.

22. Ivory Coast

A side that flatter to deceive at these tournaments. Still have some lofty names led by Didier Drogba and Yaya Toure, but are not too smart in defence. At least they have a chance to progress having landed in Group C alongside Colombia, Japan and Greece.

23. Ecuador

Showed a degree of effectiveness in drawing 2-2 with England in Miami, and with Antonio Valencia out wide, will carry a menace, but they will struggle to get out of the group stages.

24. South Korea

A country with a rich history at the World Cup finals, South Korea are appearing at their eighth straight World Cup finals. Have made it beyond the group stage twice in the past three tournaments.

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25. Cameroon

Cameroon return to the World Cup finals for the seventh time with one of the world’s most successful players in their ranks in Samuel Eto'o, but their prospects of progress past the first round look slim with group matches against hosts Brazil, Croatia and Mexico.

26. Algeria

Drew 0-0 with England at the last World Cup finals, and have been tipped by Diego Maradona to reach the last 16. Sofiane Feghouli carries the main threat from midfield.

27. Greece

It is a decade since Greece defended their way to the Euro 2004 title in Portugal. Won't happen again in Brazil, but they do have a real togetherness in their squad which should be of real value.

28. Costa Rica

One of the best squads Costa Rica have pieced together for a World Cup, but face a tough time upsetting a Group D that includes Uruguay, Italy and England.

29. Nigeria

Won their first African Nations Cup since 1994 last year, but that is not going to mean much in Brazil. Their match with Bosnia and Herzegovina is going to be crucial in Group E.

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30. Australia

Australia were strongest in 2006 when they reached the last 16. So unfortunate to lose to winners Italy late on, but that was their glory days. These aren't. Should be able to enjoy the knock-out stage from home.

31. Honduras

Arguably, the tournament's weakest side. Have qualified for a second straight tournament, but that should be the ceiling for them.

32. Iran

In Group E with Argentina, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Nigeria, it will be a miracle if they pick up a win never mind reach the last 16. Another side who make you wonder why there aren't any more European sides at these tournaments.

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