2022 World Cup Power Rankings After First Group Stage Game

2022 World Cup Power Rankings After First Group Stage Game originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

What a wild first week in Qatar.

With every nation having played its first group stage game in the 2022 FIFA World Cup, we’ve already witnessed multiple shocking upsets and some thrilling encounters.

Saudi Arabia’s 2-1 comeback win over Argentina went down as one of the biggest upsets in tournament history while Japan also completed a second-half comeback against Germany.

On a more comfortable note, England handled Iran 6-2, France started its defense campaign with a 4-1 win over Australia and Brazil neutralized a darkhorse team in Serbia 2-0.

As the second round of group stage games get underway, let’s rank all 32 teams in the World Cup based on the first game only:

32. Costa Rica: Spain is several tiers ahead of Los Ticos in quality, but even Keylor Navas between the sticks couldn’t minimize the damage of a 7-0 loss. It practically eliminated their chances of advancing.

31. Australia: The Socceroos were within striking distance of France in the first half, but their extreme passiveness in the second half was just begging for Les Bleus to add on more goals. And that’s what happened, which makes it a strange decision on Graham Arnold’s part.

30. Qatar: Qatar’s debut on the world stage left a lot to be desired. The build-up play was not there, the strikers barely got any touches in the final third and the defense looked far too shaky against an aggressive Ecuador side. Having Akram Afif, a striker, play as a third center back in the build-up phase is just not optimal.

29. Poland: Having Robert Lewandowski doesn’t solve all your issues. Poland did not seem interested in making any attacking push against Mexico and are another nation that doesn’t have the players to keep possession and build up from the back. Not a fun watch.

28. Iran: Losing 6-2 is an awful way to start a tournament, but Iran had to make an in-game goalkeeper substitution and England possesses way too much attacking quality that made this result unsurprising.

27. Wales: The Welsh got away with a draw against a U.S. side that couldn’t break down the Red Dragons’ low block. However, Wales were also not interested in building up or maintaining possession and got fortunate on Walker Zimmerman’s poor tackling decision to get a penalty.

26. Tunisia: Somehow Tunisia got away with a 0-0 draw against Denmark despite the latter being the more dominant side.

25. Morocco: The same with Tunisia applies here. Croatia really only has its midfield to rely on in this tournament, but Morocco’s defense got the job done to get a point.

24. South Korea: Seven shots, none on target. South Korea’s defense did its job against some strong Uruguayan strikers, but Uruguay’s all-around play also left a lot to be desired.

23. Uruguay: Ten shots, only one on target. Uruguay’s roster looks solid on paper, but its play has failed to meet expectations for a while now. Once tapped as the favorites to advance along with Portugal, let’s see if Uruguay can turn it around.

22. Cameroon: The Indomitable Lions’ best chance to get a result in Group H was against Switzerland, but they lost 1-0 as they couldn’t find a way past the rock that is Yann Sommer.

21. Mexico: El Tri’s recent performances in friendlies made its result against Poland not particularly surprising. Guillermo Ochoa will have to continue his heroics for Mexico.

20. Croatia: This isn’t the same Croatia that made the miraculous run to the 2018 World Cup Final. It’s a side that could still advance, but let’s see how it fares against a hungry Canadian team looking for a bounce-back outing.

19. Senegal: The Lions of Teranga fell in disappointing style to the Netherlands, conceding two goals in unfortunate times. But without Sadio Mané, they still have a good squad capable of advancing depending on how it fares head-to-head against Ecuador.

18. Serbia: Serbia also has the quality and depth of a true darkhorse nation, but Brazil’s quality came through in the end. The Serbs’ attack will have to be more potent in the final two games.

17. Denmark: The biggest issue for Denmark is its end product. They have a solid goalie, backline and midfield, but it’s finding goals that will be the Danish Dynamite’s biggest issue to solve heading into France’s matchup.

16. Switzerland: The Swiss got it done against Cameroon and picked up vital three points in the race to advance against Serbia in Group H. The head-to-head here will be key.

15. Canada: Canada proved it belonged. Belgium couldn’t keep up with Canada’s pace and intensity, and the majority of shot-creating actions went Les Rouges’ way. The final product, however, is also a clear issue here.

14. Ghana: Ghana really deserved at least a point against Portugal. A questionable penalty decision for Cristiano Ronaldo and a late slip by Iñaki Williams could end up haunting the country, though it has the quality to finish second in Group H.

13. Argentina: Everyone expected Argentina to pick up an easy three points to kickstart its potential title run. But the beauty of the World Cup shone with Saudi Arabia’s upset, and it has left plenty of questions on La Albiceleste’s backline and midfield balance.

12. Germany: Japan is not renowned, but it has always been a tough team to beat. This year, though, Japan has a better roster than 2018 and the quality proved itself against a Germany team that was let down by its end product and defensive miscues.

11. Netherlands: The Dutch backline is the premier strength, and Andries Noppert came clutch in his debut. However, the midfield doesn’t seem capable of controlling games as top teams do. Is that a sign of what’s to come for the Oranje?

10. USA: The U.S. wants to attack and create chaos, but the creativity and final product will need to improve if the Stars and Stripes want to pull off some upsets.

9. Saudi Arabia: Don’t expect to get an easy result with Saudi Arabia – as Argentina learned the hard way. Hervé Renard’s tactics and resume speaks for itself, so let’s see what the Green Falcons have in store.

8. Ecuador: La Tri has a well-drilled defense and midfield. The main question is their goalscoring: How much of the load can Enner Valencia carry?

7. Belgium: Belgium got really fortunate to escape against Canada with all three points. The quality is there, but It’s a nation that could have a big upset waiting for it if the Red Devils don’t turn things around.

6. Japan: Japan put itself on the right foot to potentially advance. The primary question for them is how it fares against Spain.

5. Portugal: Is Ronaldo capable of leading Portugal to World Cup glory? The Portuguese were another fortunate side to get a result against Ghana, but a side with more attacking and build-up quality will give them troubles.

4. Spain: A comfortable 7-0 win for a nation that should advance from Group E was a perfect start.

3. France: Injuries keep testing Didier Deschamps’ side, but Les Bleus responded well after conceding early and put away a team it should have.

2. England: When Gareth Southgate gives his attackers more freedom, good things happen. Could this be the year it comes home? We’ll have to find out.

1. Brazil: The fullbacks were Brazil’s main weakness, but Danilo and Alex Sandro stepped up to the task against Serbia in a flat back four. Neymar’s injury leaves concern, but Brazil has enough depth to still get first place in Group G.

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