Power Ranking All 32 World Cup Teams Following Latest International Friendlies

Sam Tighe@@stighefootballWorld Football Tactics Lead WriterMarch 6, 2014

Power Ranking All 32 World Cup Teams Following Latest International Friendlies

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    Remy de la Mauviniere/Associated Press

    After an action-packed midweek slate of international football goodness, which nations came out feeling "prepared" for the 2014 FIFA World Cup...and which nations did not?

    Here, we take a fresh look at the food chain and power rank all 32 sides ahead of the finals in Brazil this summer. How much of an effect did your nation's exploits this week have on its chances?

    Read on to find out. The friendlies had some impact on the order, but this remains, largely, a global ranking of the 32 best sides in order of their ability to win the World Cup.

32. Iran

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    Ebrahim Noroozi/Associated Press

    Iran have had a rough few days in preparation, squeezing past Kuwait before falling 2-1 to Guinea.

    They didn't show the sort of form that led them safely out of Asia's qualifying zone with Japan, South Korea and Australia at all, and Carlos Queiroz will be concerned his normally sturdy defence took a turn for the worse.

31. Australia

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    Sang Tan/Associated Press

    Australia led Ecuador 3-0 at the 60-minute mark but went on to lose 4-3 after goalkeeper Mitchell Langerak was sent off.

    The capitulation serves as yet another reason the Socceroos aren't fancied by anyone to make a splash this summer—even their own fans.

30. Honduras

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    Moises Castillo/Associated Press

    Honduras produced a strong display to see off Venezuela on Wednesday, with Jerry Bengtson and Jerry Palacios netting for the World Cup-bound outfit.

    Momentum will be important if they are to have a hope of making a splash at the finals, so easing to one-score victories less than 100 days before the tournament will be just fine with Luis Fernando Suarez.

29. Algeria

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    Sidali Djarboub/Associated Press

    Nabil Bentaleb made his debut for Algeria as they beat a handy Slovenia side 2-0.

    The Tottenham Hotspur youngster came close to scoring, arrowing a shot from outside the box just over the bar, before El Arabi Hillel Soudani notched just before half-time.

    Saphir Taider, of Internazionale, sealed it in the second half.

28. Cameroon

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    Armando Franca/Associated Press

    Upon qualifying for the World Cup, Cameroon were the lowest-ranked team, at 59th, in the FIFA statistics.

    Their dismal 5-1 loss to Portugal sheds some light as to why, although they came up against a Ballon d'Or winner in Cristiano Ronaldo, they were flattened mercilessly without much of a fight.

27. Costa Rica

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    Moises Castillo/Associated Press

    A Joel Campbell-inspired Costa Rica beat Paraguay 2-1 as they stepped up their World Cup preparations in style.

    Beating los Guaranies is no longer the stellar achievement it was back in 1998, given their current poor form, but Jorge Luis Pinto's side are undeniably catching fire at the right time.

    Real Salt Lake forward Alvaro Saborio chipped in for the second, while Gustavo Gomez nabbed a consolation goal at the death for the visiting outfit.

26. Ecuador

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    Lefteris Pitarakis/Associated Press

    Ecuador mounted a stunning four-goal comeback against Australia on Wednesday, although it took the Socceroos' goalkeeper getting a red card to spark it.

    That's got to be a huge concern for Reinaldo Rueda ahead of the finals, even if the XI he sent out was experimental; Australia are the worst side entering the competition.

25. Ghana

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    Risto Bozovic/Associated Press

    A Dejan Damjanovic goal from the spot dealt Ghana a disappointing loss to Montenegro in Podgorica.

    The penalty was given away just 15 seconds into the game, and despite the Black Stars' subsequent settling, they failed to find an equalising goal.

    Even the introduction of Asamoah Gyan failed to turn the tide.

24. Greece

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    Thanassis Stavrakis/Associated Press

    Greece's usually formidable defensive system crumbled at the hands of a creative, potent South Korean side.

    Fernando Santos' men conceded just four goals during qualifying and have built their success on solidity, so this will sound the alarm bells as we edge toward the tournament.

23. Mexico

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    Dave Tulis/Associated Press

    Mexico played out an uncharacteristic 0-0 draw with Nigeria, relying on the brilliance of Guillermo Ochoa rather than the firepower of their strikers for a change.

    Their opponents are a strong outfit with a brilliant coach, so a clean sheet and result here is a decent stepping stone as Miguel Herrera moves through the gears.

22. United States

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    Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/Getty Images

    The United States fell to Ukraine 2-0 in Larnaca, Cyprus.

    It was their first loss of 2014 and their first two-goal deficit since defeat to Costa Rica in September 2013, so Jurgen Klinsmann won't be too concerned with his side's lacklustre showing.

    Playing Mexico in April will be a major benchmark, though.

21. South Korea

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    Thanassis Stavrakis/Associated Press

    South Korea found out a lot about themselves during their 2-0 win over Greece on Wednesday, and what transpired was almost all positive.

    Park Chu-Young got on the scoresheet and Heung Min Son starred, breathing fresh hope into the belief that the East Asian outfit can solve their goalscoring woes ahead of the finals.

    Breaking down Greece isn't easy.

20. Ivory Coast

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    Geert Vanden Wijngaert/Associated Press

    Ivory Coast took advantage of slack defending to complete a 2-2 comeback against Belgium in Brussels.

    Axel Witsel had nullified Yaya Toure all game, but poor play at the back allowed Didier Drogba and Max Gradel to swoop in and level matters late on.

    Promising for the Elephants.

19. Bosnia & Herzegovina

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    Kerstin Joensson/Associated Press

    Bosnia & Herzegovina received something of a wake-up call on Wednesday as they lost 2-0 to Egypt.

    Mohamed Salah was the star of a show that BIH were supposed to use to prove their World Cup credentials, and all of the sudden some of the momentum in their run-up to Brazil has been wiped.

    Defensive concerns reared once again.

18. Nigeria

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    Dave Tulis/Associated Press

    Nigeria's attacking talents drew a blank in front of the mercurial Guillermo Ochoa in goal for Mexico, but Stephen Keshi will be satisfied with his side's 0-0 draw at the Georgia Dome.

    The Super Eagles are in fine fettle and will meet less-inspired 'keepers as they continue their preparation for the World Cup, and the chance to get many of the nation's strongest players on the pitch together was taken aptly.

17. Japan

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    Shuji Kajiyama/Associated Press

    Japan beat New Zealand 4-2 in a highly entertaining encounter in Tokyo. Shinji Okazaki, Shinji Kagawa and Masato Morishige all notched for the hosts, while Chris Wood bagged a brace for the visitors.

    It leaves the Samurai Blue in good form ahead of the World Cup, and with goals not seeming an issue, they can focus on their centre-back issues.

16. Croatia

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    Marc Eich/Getty Images

    Stalwart Ivica Olic scored twice for Croatia as they drew 2-2 with World Cup top seeds Switzerland.

    Luka Modric sat out the opening half and it showed, as his introduction brought about a seamless spell of pressure from the Eastern European outfit and they were able to level the score.

    Olic's goalscoring form is vital given Mario Manduzkic's one-match ban to start the finals.

15. Russia

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    Denis Tyrin/Associated Press

    Russia emerged unscathed from their tussle with Armenia, containing Borussia Dortmund man Henrikh Mkhitaryan with ease and winning by a 2-0 scoreline.

    Aleksandr Kokorin furthered his claim to start ahead of Alexander Kerzhakov by scoring a delightful back-heel, and Dmitry Kombarov slotted home a penalty to seal it just before half-time.

    Fabio Capello's men look ready and eager.

14. England

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    Sang Tan/Associated Press

    A late Daniel Sturridge header, borne from an Adam Lallana cross, gave England a 1-0 win over Denmark to turn the tide on recent results.

    The Three Lions have just a single game against Peru left before World Cup preparation truly ramps up, and there are still plenty of questions to answer.

    Finally finding a way past the superlative Kasper Schmeichel sent swathes of relief through the Wembley crowd.

13. Switzerland

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    Marc Eich/Getty Images

    Switzerland played out a 2-2 draw with fellow World Cup contenders Croatia on Wednesday, with Josip Drmic—a nationalised Swiss with Croatian roots—bagging a brace on his fifth appearance for the country.

    His form will be key as Ottmar Hitzfeld's men gear up for the tournament, as goals were a serious problem throughout qualifying; Fabian Schar was top scorer with three.

12. Chile

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    Michael Probst/Associated Press

    Chile continued their worrying trend of playing extremely well but not sealing a result against a bigger team, with the latest setback coming against Germany.

    Mario Goetze scored the only goal of the game in the 16th minute to give his nation's beliefs a big boost ahead of the World Cup.

11. Portugal

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    Armando Franca/Associated Press

    Cristiano Ronaldo scored a thrilling brace as Portugal dispensed with a poor Cameroon side 5-1.

    It moves the Real Madrid man to the top of his nation's scoring charts at the age of 29 and simultaneously ramps up Os Seleccao's preparations for the finals.

    The Portuguese are moving through the gears.

10. Netherlands

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    Peter Dejong/Associated Press

    The Netherlands fell 2-0 to a Blaise Matuidi-inspired France on Wednesday night, sparking further concerns over a suspect defensive line.

    Ron Vlaar cleared off the line early on but couldn't keep les Bleus out for the entire 90 minutes, and with just 98 days till the tournament begins, Louis van Gaal has a lot of work to do.

9. France

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    Remy de la Mauviniere/Associated Press

    France beat the Netherlands 2-0 in a telling, easy victory.

    Blaise Matuidi scored one of the most incredible scissor-kick goals you're ever likely to see to double les Bleus' advantage, and the Dutch did very little to fight back.

    Didier Deschamps used the ninth central defensive pairing of his tenure so far.

8. Colombia

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    Manu Fernandez/Associated Press

    Surprisingly, Colombia only managed a 1-1 draw with lowly Tunisia despite playing a strong side.

    The locals who made the trip to the Cornella El-Prat in Spain booed as their team failed to find any sort of cutting edge, with Adrian Ramos' debut failing to follow the dream script many had in mind.

    More worries to consider for Jose Pekerman.

7. Belgium

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    Geert Vanden Wijngaert/Associated Press

    Belgium raced into a 2-0 lead over Ivory Coast on Wednesday only to be pegged back by Didier Drogba and Co.

    Marouane Fellaini had given the Red Devils the lead with a strong header before Radja Nainggolan diverted a low cross into the net with help from the 'keeper.

    Manchester United fans must be wondering why this Fellaini doesn't show up at Old Trafford very often.

6. Uruguay

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    Ronald Zak/Associated Press

    Luis Suarez starred, but Uruguay failed to overcome an emerging, strong Austria side.

    The 1-1 draw was a fair reflection of the match despite periods of dominance from the South American nation, with Diego Forlan filling in ably for Edinson Cavani up front.

    Suarez smashed the bar with a 30-yard free-kick.

5. Italy

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    Andres Kudacki/Associated Press

    Italy's preparations for the World Cup hit a roadblock as they fell 1-0 to Spain.

    They didn't play poorly and fell victim to some great attacking play from David Silva in the second half, but Cesare Prandelli will be worried about the weakness of his left side for the moment.

4. Germany

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    Matthias Schrader/Associated Press

    Germany struggled to bring the ball out against a high Chile pressing system, but once they did enter the final third, they were lethal.

    Mario Goetze scored the only goal of the game to essentially save Joachim Low's blushes, and die Mannschaft march on in their preparations for the finals this summer.

3. Argentina

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    Vadim Ghirda/Associated Press

    Argentina were the lucky recipients of an odd refereeing decision on Wednesday, sparing them from a loss to Romania—and instead limiting the score to a dour 0-0.

    Lionel Messi was sick on the pitch, Sergio Aguero was ineffectual and Romania created more chances overall; Alejandro Sabella will have felt as sick as Messi watching his contenders toil to no avail.

2. Spain

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    Andres Kudacki/Associated Press

    Pedro converted Spain's only goal of the game against Italy to re-affirm belief in their chances of success in Brazil this summer.

    The Barcelona winger slotted home after neat interplay from Andres Iniesta and David Silva, and with it completed their revenge on the Azzurri for taking them all the way to penalties at the Confederations Cup.

1. Brazil

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    Themba Hadebe/Associated Press

    A remarkable hat-trick from Neymar crowned a devastating 5-0 victory over South Africa in Johannesburg. 

    Brazil now look fully prepared for the competition but will have to make a late decision over whether the impressive Fernandinho starts at the finals.

    Luiz Felipe Scolari's plans are in full swing and the Selecao are our No. 1.