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18th Jun 2014

JOE ranks all of the World Cup teams so far

So who looks best equipped to take Spain's title? We rank 'em from 1-32.

Paul Moore

So who looks best equipped to take Spain’s title? We rank ’em from 1-32.

The first round of matches at the World Cup have all been played but who is going to be lifting the world’s most famous trophy? JOE has ranked every team based on their initial performances.

1) Holland – Who else? A 5-1 win against the reigning champions that was made even more impressive by the fact that the Dutch goalkeeper and back-four were all making their World Cup debuts. Man Utd fans expectations for next year have probably jumped up into the stratosphere.

Spain v Netherlands: Group B - 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil

2) Germany – Pepe’s red card made it easier for Die Mannschaft but they were already 2-0 up at that stage. Thomas Muller looks like he picked up exacty where he left off in South Africa, scoring goals. Statement of intent.

3) France – Honduras’ overly physical approach was a test of the sometimes fragile French character but they answered in style. Benzema looks like he is in the form of his life and Les Blues already have one foot in the next round.

4) Italy – Arguably the best 90 minutes of football that JOE has seen in the tournament so far. Their 2-1 win was a hammer blow to England’s chances and the perfect start for the Azzuri who came into Brazil on the back of a poor run of form. Candreva and Pirlo excelled and Prandelli’s men looked comfortable finishing the game off.

England v Italy: Group D - 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil

5) Argentina – The 5-3-2 formation didn’t suit them but credit to Sabella for seeing and changing things. Higuain’s introduction freed up some space for Messi and we all know what happened next. They’ll get better.

6) Costa Rica – Who saw this coming? Undoubtedly the fairytale story of the groups so far. Not only did they beat the reigning Copa America champions but they thoroughly outplayed them . Their final group game against England will be tasty.

7) Brazil – They struggled to break down Croatia in the opener needing a very dubious penalty that swung the game. Ochoa had the game of his life for Mexico against them in the 0-0 draw but you wonder if the lack of a world class centre forward will hurt them.


8) Mexico – No one expected them to offer much but they have a real chance of reaching the last 16 now. They dominated Cameroon and should have beaten them by more. They relied on their goalkeeper against Brazil but they also created a few chances. Impressive.

9) Colombia – Falcao who? Many expected them to struggle in front of goal after their star strikers injury but they easily brushed aside Greece . El Tricolor played some lovely tiki-taka football and look certainties to get out of their group

10) Switzerland – A team that perfectly reflects their manager, Ottmar Hitzfeld. Organised, defensively sound and they never stopped running until the last minute. They deserved their dramatic win and we fully expect them to reach the last 16.


11) Belgium – JOE is still in shock that Marouane Fellaini actually changed the game for the heavily fancied “dark horses”.

12) Bosnia – A very impressive debut performance especially after making the worst possible start imaginable. Miralem Pjanic looks like he belongs on the world’s biggest stage. If they play like this in their final two group games then they will be in the last 16.

13) Chile – Pure entertainment against Australia. Their swashbuckling all-out attack style will please the neutrals but they leave themselves very open on the counter-attack.

14) Croatia – Very unlucky to lose their opening game against Brazil. The return of Mario Mandzukic should give them more attacking prowess.

Mandzukic pic

15) England – Good but not great. Raheem Sterling proved why Roy Hodgson’s faith in him was justified with a encouraging performance but Italy tore England’s left side apart. Question marks remain over Rooney and Gerrard but England will still be confident of qualification.

16) Ivory Coast – Bony, Drogba and Yaya going forward. Zokora and Bamba at the back. Very top heavy.

17) United States – Ghana played the better football but the US were resolute, hard to beat and full of commitment epitomized by Clint Dempsey who played on after receiving a nasty kick to the head. Still lack a cutting edge which will be needed against Germany and Portugal.

Ghana v USA: Group G - 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil

18) Russia – Swap the names Rob Green vs USA in 2010 and Igor Akinfeev in 2014. Fabio Capello must hate his goalkeepers.

Luxembourg v Russia - FIFA 2014 World Cup Qualifier

19) South Korea – Similar to Japan. Kept the ball well and probed at the Russian defence but without really threatening.

20) Algeria – Impressive leading against a heavily fancied Belgian side for so long but their lack of squad depth proved costly in the final 20 minutes. Will fancy their chances against South Korea and Russia.

21) Ecuador – Could have won against Switzerland match if Behrami hadn’t made that last minute tackle. They will probably need two wins to qualify. Don’t see it happening.

22) Ghana– Very unfortunate to lose having played most of the football in that match but their marking for Brooks’ winning header was poor. Germany and Portugal await. Time to start packing your bags lads.

23) Japan– Switched off for two fatal minutes and it cost them dear, a side close to our heart. Lots of neat passing and movement but those pre-tournament fears over their set-piece defending proved to be correct.

24) Greece – Struggled to get a foothold in their game and looked desperately short of attacking options also.

25) Uruguay – The 2010 semi-finalists were beaten in every department against Costa Rica. Luis Suarez will definitely start against England but JOE can’t help but wonder about his fitness. Can the Liverpool man rescue his country?


26) Australia– A virtuoso performance from Tim Cahill wasn’t enough to save the Socceroos. They had chances against Chile but their defense is more porous than a bucket with holes in it.

27) Portugal– Completely blown away by Germany from the first minute and once again Pepe let his team-mates down with another red card. Ronaldo should be better for getting another 90 minutes under his belt. They can’t play any worse.

28) Spain– First-half. Ok. Second Half. W.T.F. The only silver lining is that the reigning champions can’t play any worse. Del Bosque’s team selection against Chile will be very interesting.


29) Cameroon– Absolutely hopeless. Their pre-tournament preparations were a joke and it showed on the pitch.

30) Honduras- Obviously reading the the Mark Van Bommel/ Nigel de Jong coaching manual of “kung-fu football”.

31) Iran – See below

32) Nigeria– They broke the World Cup