World Cup Wash-Up: Every Nation Ranked

Image: Goal

After 64 matches and a plethora of memorable moments, the rollercoaster that was the World Cup is over and we are left with one winner, France.

While the French celebrate, we deliberate, with our post-tournament power rankings of all 32 nations.

The teams are ranked on performance and how they exceeded expectations or underwhelmed.

The numbers in brackets indicate the nation’s pre-tournament FIFA World Ranking.

  1. France (7)
    Regardless of the fact that many picked the French to win the World Cup, their flawless tournament is one to be admired. They had no weaknesses in their team and unrivalled squad depth, worthy victors.

    French star Kylian Mbappe is only 19. Image: Getty
  2. Croatia (20)
    Croatia were the smallest nation (population 4.2 million) since 1930 to make a World Cup final, that in itself is something to be proud of, despite falling at the final hurdle, it was an astonishing performance that shocked the world.

    Luke Modric was named player of the tournament but his reaction says it all. Image: AFP
  3. Belgium (3)
    Belgium finally lived up to expectations by making it to the last four. No longer everyone’s dark horse, Belgium had the squad to win the tournament and they came agonisingly close, achieving their nation’s best ever WC finish. At least Belgium provided the highlight of the tournament with Michy Batshuayi’s attempt to look cool.Related image
  4. England (13)
    Football was coming home, then football came fourth. However, it was a wild ride and no one can be blamed for jumping on the bandwagon. England took a big step forward in terms of unity and belief whilst breaking their penalty hoodoo. Many would argue that the Three Lions didn’t beat any teams of quality but the lower ranked sides have been England’s kryptonite in the past.

    Gareth Southgate won over English fans. Image: Getty
  5. Russia (70)
    Don’t be fooled by Russia’s pre-tournament FIFA world ranking as their automatic qualification as host nation removed their opportunity to play qualifiers and saw them slip to 70th. Nonetheless, no one expected Russia to make the final eight so they greatly exceeded expectations in front of their home fans. It was nice to see Vladimir Putin smiling.

    Russian fans were delighted with their team’s performance. Image: Reuters
  6. Uruguay (14)
    A flawless group stage performance by the Uruguayans as goalkeeper Fernando Muslera and co. conceded zero goals in the opening three matches. Unfortunately for Muslera, he went from hero to villain quite quickly as his costly mistake in the quarter-final saw the South American side bomb out against France.Image result for muslera gif
  7. Brazil (2)
    The most talented squad in Russia and pre-tournament favourites Brazil went crashing out against Belgium in what was a shock to many. Whilst they failed in 2014 and have now failed again as favourites, their stars are young and the South American nation will undoubtedly still be amongst the top teams in 2022.

    Neymar shares the frustration of a nation. Image: TalkSport
  8. Sweden (24)
    In hindsight, Sweden’s draw was quite favourable as the Germans seemed to be a shell of their 2014 World Cup winning selves. Nevertheless, the Swedish exceeded expectations by topping their group and ultimately progressing to the final eight.
  9. Japan (61)
    It started with a Colombian red card and ended with a heartbreaking Belgian comeback. A rollercoaster World Cup for the Japanese in which they played an exciting brand of football and impressed in every game. Hats off to new coach Akira Nishino for giving the old stars ample playing time too, it clearly paid off.

    Old Gold: Keisuke Honda bows out after another stellar tournament. Image: Reuters
  10. Mexico (15)
    After the Mexicans opened their tournament with a shock win over Germany, some thought it may finally be the year for Juan Carlos Osorio’s side to break their knockout round hoodoo. However, they were drawn against powerhouse Brazil and they were knocked out in the Round of 16 for the seventh straight World Cup.
  11. Colombia (16)
    It was a sad sight to see Colombian star James Rodriguez watch a fair chunk of the World Cup action from the sidelines. The reigning Golden Boot winner could not get his body right and his side suffered as a result.

    A broken James Rodriguez. Image: Getty
  12. Switzerland (6)
    The Swiss had some exciting games throughout the tournament and had their chances in the Round of 16 clash with Sweden. Despite their FIFA World Ranking being so high, failing early in the knockout stage was expected.Related image
  13. Denmark (12)
    There was a lot of pressure on Christian Eriksen to perform if Denmark were to progress to the latter stages of the tournament and he tried his heart out. Losing on penalties to finalist Croatia was a crushing way to go out.
  14. Portugal (4)
    Cristiano Ronaldo was incredible and he carried his team out of the group stage but one man can only do so much.

    Bit of help fellas? Image: Reuters
  15. Argentina (5)
    Admirable against France in their round of 16 clash but the Argentines would never have been forced to face such a quality side that early had they performed better in the group stage. Scored a few goals but their defensive efforts left a lot to be desired.
  16. Spain (10)
    It seems firing your head coach within days of your opening game does not bring immediate success – who would’ve thought? Spain were one of the biggest disappointments of the tournament.

    Heads down, shorts up. Image: Kabul Times
  17. Iran (37)
    Incredible performance in a tough group, Iran came excruciatingly close to progressing and won the admiration of us all with their playing style and subsequent results.Image result for world cup gif
  18. Senegal (27)
    Devastatingly close to progressing out of the group stage, only missing out due to a ‘fair play’ rule which takes into account yellow cards. Senegal played exciting football and their fast-paced style could have caused some upsets in the knockout stages.
  19. South Korea (57)
    Placed in a terribly difficult group before the tournament, not much was expected from the Koreans but they showed a lot of heart. Despite not progressing past the group stage, the way they knocked Germany out of the tournament was appreciated by many.

    Son Heung-Min gave his all in Russia. Image: Football365
  20. Serbia (34)
    Lacklustre tournament from Serbia, very few highlights apart from a classy free-kick goal from Aleksandar Kolarov. At least their star man Sergej Milinkovic-Savic is set for a big pay rise in the coming months.
  21. Peru (11)
    Could have progressed with a touch more luck against Denmark. Looked far superior to the Aussies and overall had a solid World Cup full of exciting games.
  22. Nigeria (48)
    So close to progressing out of Group D but with Croatia and Argentina in their way, it would have been a mighty upset. Defensively were not up to scratch.

    Wilfred Ndidi grabs a drink. Image: Getty
  23. Morocco (41)
    One of the most watchable teams of the World Cup, Morocco were unlucky not to scrape through for at least one victory.
  24. Australia (36)
    The Socceroos had a genuine chance to progress all the way up until their final group match. But when you look at the tournament as a whole, the Aussies conceded on five occasions and never scored in general play.

    Tim Cahill playing his last match in a Socceroos shirt. Image: AAP
  25. Poland (8)
    Poland underperformed in the sense that they were the highest ranked side in a group with no obvious threats. However, that group turned out to be uber-competitive and extremely close, so it’s hard to judge Poland’s performance.
  26. Iceland (22)
    Many had high hopes for the loveable Iceland after their breakout performance at Euro 2016, but one draw and two losses this time around was disappointing. However, with a filmmaker as first-choice goalkeeper and a host of semi-professional players taking the field, their results were somewhat expected.

    There is little doubt which team had the best fans
  27. Tunisia (21)
    The Tunisians performed as expected, beating the worst side at the tournament and losing to two eventual semi-finalists. Scoring in each game was also a big plus.
  28. Saudi Arabia (67)
    Say all you want about their final two (largely impressive) games, everyone will remember Saudi Arabia’s performance in the tournament’s opening match, where they were on the wrong side of a 5-0 Russian hammering.

    KO’d. Image: Reuters
  29. Costa Rica (23)
    The shock quarter-finalists from 2014 didn’t set the world on fire this time around. They played a defensive brand of football that resulted in zero wins.
  30. Germany (1)
    If you had said Germany would fail to progress beyond the group stage at the start of the tournament, you would have been laughed at. If you had predicted the train-wreck that occurred as the reigning champions finished at the bottom of an easy group, you would have been ostracised. The Germans were Scheisse.

    Champions only four years ago. Image: Getty
  31. Egypt (45)
    Best player on the planet, Mo Salah, in your squad? Check. Easy group? Check. Three underwhelming losses? Check.
  32. Panama (55)
    Seeing their national team score twice was a glorious result for Panamanians everywhere but they also conceded the most goals… by a country mile.

To finish, we leave you with the tweet of the World Cup:


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