World Cup 2014: Team Power Rankings After Every Side's Opening Game

Sam TigheWorld Football Tactics Lead WriterJune 17, 2014

World Cup 2014: Team Power Rankings After Every Side's Opening Game

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    Welcome to the latest edition of our FIFA World Cup 2014 team power rankings, where we rank all 32 countries based on their performances and results so far.

    With one round of matches complete, it's the most opportune time to construct. So, looking back, who underwhelmed, overwhelmed, excited and disappointed?

    Please note: This selection does not include Brazil vs. Mexico, and that game will be taken into account in the second round of rankings. It is, quite literally, 32 teams ranked based on their first 90 minutes of play.

    The original power rankings can be found by clicking here.

32. Honduras

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    Pre-tournament: 32

    Honduras were dreadful in their opener against France, succumbing to a 3-0 loss and seeing Wilson Palacios sent off for two bookable offences.

    The Central American outfit kicked and stamped their way through yet another 90 minutes, and those hoping their pre-tournament boxing match versus England was a one-off remained very disappointed.

31. Cameroon

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    Julian Finney/Getty Images

    Pre-tournament: 29

    Cameroon were dreadful in their opening game, and it was clear from the start that the players weren't in the correct mindset to begin tournament football that Friday.

    They arrived late in Brazil after arguing with the federation about bonuses, per BBC Sport, and the system they set out against Mexico was dire.

    No nous, no direction, no quality.

30. Nigeria

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    Pre-tournament: 19

    Nigeria were expected to impress yet fell woefully short of estimations as they failed to unlock Iran's tight defence.

    The Persian Stars can be stubborn, certainly, but four shots on target, per WhoScored.com, and Shola Ameobi on the pitch? The Super Eagles may have squandered their chances of progression.

    Coach Stephen Keshi is under pressure.

29. Portugal

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    Paulo Duarte/Associated Press

    Pre-tournament: 10

    Portugal were destroyed 4-0 by Germany on Monday, with Pepe's early red card condemning his side to 55 minutes of uncomfortable football with 10 men against a free-flowing nightmare.

    Fabio Coentrao has since been ruled out for the rest of the tournament with a hamstring injury, and Rui Patricio has a thigh ailment that could hinder him too.

    It could hardly have gone any worse for Os Selecao in truth.

28. Australia

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    Pre-tournament: 31

    Australia were far better than expected in their opening game against Chile and, although they did get ripped to shreds in parts, they presented a strong counter-attacking front and targeted La Roja's areas of weakness well.

    Matthew Leckie was superb on the counter, and Tim Cahill is still a reliable goalscoring presence in the box.

    It doesn't get any easier next, though, against the Netherlands.

27. Greece

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    Pre-tournament: 25

    Greece played a different game to what we'd expected coming into the tournament, but it was still a negative, overly careful and harmless brand in truth.

    They saw more of the ball than Colombia in their opener—a tough feat to achieve—but did very little with it and often took the sideways or backward pass rather than the riskier one.

26. Uruguay

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    Pre-tournament: 6

    Uruguay were shocking in their opener against Costa Rica, failing to kick on after taking the lead and eventually succumbing to the minnow side 3-1.

    There was little movement, little ingenuity and absolutely no killer instinct. Oscar Tabarez will have to hope Luis Suarez and Gaston Ramirez—both slated to join the XI for the England game—can provide all of that in spades.

25. Ghana

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    Pre-tournament: 18

    Ghana underwhelmed in their loss to the USA, struggling on the ball and when asked to create in possession.

    Jurgen Klinsmann took away their counter-attacking threat by sitting deep, and it worked a treat; Christian Atsu and Co. continually made the wrong choices in the final third and paid the price.

24. Japan

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    Pre-tournament: 16

    Japan were stupendous for 45 minutes, taking the lead through an excellent Keisuke Honda goal and making Ivory Coast look like an unorganised rabble.

    But it all changed in the second half when Sabri Lamouchi decided to test the Samurai Blue's weak defensive line. After two quick goals, Japan weren't able to muster the firepower to come back.

    It looks bleak for Alberto Zaccheroni's boys.

23. Iran

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    Pre-tournament: 30

    Iran came exactly as advertised: stubborn, tough to break down, offensively limited and difficult to love.

    But that didn't stop Carlos Queiroz and his men from smiling gleefully, having successfully stifled Nigeria and earning a point in Group F that puts them second as we enter the second round of matches.

    Andranik Teymourian and Mehrdad Pooladi, in particular, were excellent.

22. Ecuador

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    Pre-tournament: 24

    Ecuador started superbly, unsettling Switzerland and scoring an early goal through their new primary source, Enner Valencia.

    But they dropped deeper and deeper as the game progressed, and they failed to deal with Ottmar Hitzfeld's tactical switches.

    A 93rd-minute strike from Haris Seferovic condemned La Tri to an opening loss, and with it likely their hopes of qualifying.

21. South Korea

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    Pre-tournament: 26

    South Korea opened their FIFA World Cup 2014 campaign with a 1-1 draw against Russia, and manager Hong Myung-Bo will have been happy his side was able to accrue a point from a rather poor performance.

    Son Heung-Min was their only bright spark offensively, and while Ki Sung-Yueng kept possession superbly, the team on the whole lacked goal threat.

    The only reason they notched was because of an Igor Akinfeev howler.

20. Russia

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    Pre-tournament: 21

    Russia looked drab for 60 minutes against South Korea, creating little, offering nothing and generally underwhelming the crowd with their slow tempo.

    But that all changed when Alan Dzagoev and Aleksandr Kerzhakov came on, upping the tempo and creating a goal by surging into the box. If Russia can play a little more like that on a regular basis, they may well get out of the group.

19. Algeria

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    Pre-tournament: 27

    Algeria held Belgium goalless for a whopping 70 minutes on Tuesday, proving they can organise themselves superbly in a low block and stifle the best of attacks.

    They eventually yielded, twice, to lose the game, but this is a building block for Vahid Halilhodzic, who knows his side stands a far better chance against Russia and South Korea.

18. Ivory Coast

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    Pre-tournament: 22

    The Ivory Coast were pretty torrid for 60 minutes, but as soon as Didier Drogba entered the fray, everything changed.

    With two up front, Serge Aurier had two targets to aim at, with Wilfried Bony and Gervinho obliging with a header each to turn the tables on Japan.

    Yaya Toure was dreadful, and the Elephants are, overall, very tough to place due to their inconsistencies.

17. Spain

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    Pre-tournament: 3

    Spain were crushed by Netherlands in their opener, losing 5-1 in a shocking collapse after taking the lead early on.

    Diego Costa's runs were stretching the Oranje's back three, and David Silva had begun picking the lock on Ron Vlaar's back line. Alas, unable to find a second, killer goal, Arjen Robben and Robin van Persie punished them with some remarkable, clinical finishing.

    Where to now for Spain?

16. Switzerland

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    Pre-tournament: 14

    Switzerland promised so much on paper but ended up scraping a 2-1 victory in the 93rd minute courtesy of a late Haris Seferovic effort.

    They had begun slowly, failing to connect to each other, struggling with the heat and almost arguing with each other over pass directions, but they eventually settled and began to turn the screw.

    A lot more to come from the Swiss, but three points in the bag all the same.

15. USA

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    Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

    Pre-tournament: 20

    Clint Dempsey notched inside the first minute of the USA's FIFA World Cup 2014 campaign, getting them off to a dream start in their must-win game against Ghana.

    The Black Stars later equalised, but John Brooks stole the limelight, heading home with three minutes to go to seal a dramatic, much-needed and deserved three points.

14. Bosnia and Herzegovina

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    Pre-tournament: 17

    Bosnia and Herzegovina were an intriguing prospect pre-tournament, and they came in at around the right level for our expectations.

    Edin Dzeko underwhelmed up front, but the central midfield was excellent against Argentina, and the defence played above its station for the most part.

    Vedad Ibisevic made history by scoring BIH's first-ever FIFA World Cup goal.

13. Croatia

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    Pre-tournament: 15

    Croatia may have lost their opening match 3-1 to hosts Brazil, but they were the better side for long periods and were harmed by some questionable officiating.

    Luka Modric, Ivan Rakitic and Sime Vrsaljko all impressed greatly, and their next matchup against Cameroon looks a bit of a walkover on paper.

    Potential to move up soon.

12. England

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    Pre-tournament: 12

    England played very well against Italy, so the defeat was tough to stomach, but ultimately the Three Lions lost to a side that knows how to carve out tough victories on the world stage.

    They will reload against a Uruguay side that caused the first shock of the tournament, losing to Costa Rica convincingly, and the potential result is truly up in the air.

    Lose, and they're out of the World Cup!

11. Belgium

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    Pre-tournament: 8

    Belgium endured a scary opening fixture against Algeria on Tuesday, going a goal down to a Sofiane Feghouli penalty early on and struggling to carve out any chances of note.

    Marc Wilmots used all of his substitutes by the 65th minute to turn the tide, and it worked, leading the team to a 2-1 comeback victory, but this has to serve as a wake-up call for the Red Devils.

10. Costa Rica

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    Pre-tournament: 29

    Costa Rica turned in the shock of the opening round, beating 2010's fourth-placed finishers Uruguay 3-1 in stunning style.

    The Ticos went down to an Edinson Cavani penalty but refused to bow, reloading and bagging three excellent goals in an assortment of ways. Joel Campbell, among others, excelled.

9. Chile

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    Pre-tournament: 9

    Chile began rampantly, scoring early against Australia and using decoy runs to confuse Ange Postecoglou's defensive setup. Alexis Sanchez and Eduardo Vargas were sublime initially, but it all just sort of...tailed off.

    Australia got back into the game, and it took a last-minute third goal from Jean Beausejour to truly kill off the tie. A 3-1 win may look flattering, but they came close to conceding an equaliser.

8. Mexico

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    Pre-tournament: 23

    Mexico were an attacking force in their opener against Cameroon, committing wing-backs to relentless forays forward and releasing Giovani dos Santos to do his damage.

    The playmaker scored two goals only to see them ruled out (incorrectly) for offside, before Oribe Peralta finally broke the deadlock with a poacher's effort.

    El Tri are a strong outfit.

7. Brazil

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    Pre-tournament: 1

    Brazil opened the tournament in front of a raucous city of Sao Paulo, riding Neymar's goalscoring coattails to a 3-1 win over an impressive Croatia outfit.

    The Selecao struggled with their rhythm early on and went 1-0 down due to an embarrassing Marcelo own goal but recovered to kick off with a vital victory.

    Oscar put in a truly sublime showing.

6. Argentina

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    Pre-tournament: 2

    Argentina got off to a slow start in their opener, but a tactical switch at half-time got them going in the right direction, and they saw off Bosnia and Herzegovina for three points.

    Lionel Messi stole the show with a superb solo golazo in the second half after Sead Kolasinac had scored an odd, unfortunate own goal in the first half.

    More to come from La Albiceleste.

5. Colombia

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    Pre-tournament: 7

    Colombia started the FIFA World Cup 2014 with a bang, netting inside eight minutes via Pablo Armero and sending their strong home support into raptures.

    Teofilo Gutierrez and James Rodriguez sealed it late on, making it 3-0 and allowing Los Cafeteros to step easily to the summit of the group.

    In truth, more was expected, but you cannot sniff at a 3-0 victory on the opening day.

4. Italy

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    Pre-tournament: 5

    Italy claimed a precious three points in their first outing against England, with Andrea Pirlo, Mario Balotelli, Antonio Candreva and Matteo Darmian all starring.

    Cesare Prandelli's narrow 4-3-3 worked a treat against Steven Gerrard and Co., finding space between the lines and on the edges. The Azzurri took their chances; the Three Lions did not.

3. France

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    Pre-tournament: 11

    France put in a sublime display to see off Honduras on Sunday, notching three goals and dispelling any notions that the team might fall apart at the seams this time around.

    Karim Benzema put in an electric showing, bagging two goals and forcing an own goal from Noel Valladares to secure a 3-0 victory for Les Bleus. 

    The movement was incredible.

2. Netherlands

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    Pre-tournament: 13

    Well, well, well!

    Louis van Gaal, genius tactician, served up an absolute treat for the neutrals and Oranje fans as his Netherlands side destroyed Spain 5-1 on Friday's blockbuster tussle.

    At one point, they were on the ropes, a David Silva shot away from being 2-0 down. They roared back via Arjen Robben and Co. to steamroll the bewildered Roja side.

1. Germany

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    Pre-tournament: 4

    Germany were at their frightening, free-flowing best against Portugal on Monday, though their strength is tough to fully ascertain due to Pepe's early red card.

    Die Mannschaft played against 10 men for more than 45 minutes, and while they were on top before the sending off, losing a man stopped any embers of a Seleccao comeback.

    What we saw, though, we loved.