Updated World Cup Power Rankings For Final 16 Teams

We now know all 16 teams that will be competing in the elimination rounds of the World Cup. It only seems logical, then, that we would rank those teams in order of their quality, form, and likelihood of going all the way. Without further ado, the World Cup Knockout Stage Power Rankings:

1. Brazil – I thought Brazil was the best team in the field before the tournament, and they did nothing to change my mind on that. They haven’t looked as dominant as they can, but they haven’t had to. In their only really important game – against Ivory Coast – they were dominant on both sides of the ball. This teams knows how to get ready for the big games, and they have the skill to compete with anyone here.

2. Argentina – The Argentinians weren’t particularly tested in Group B, but they took care of their business very nicely. They never looked out of control throughout the first stage, and they never failed to set the tone in their games. Coach Diego Maradona is still a major wild card in my eyes, but so far at least he has his team well prepared and focused.

3. Netherlands – They were the only other team besides Argentina to win all three of their games – even if they did it against questionable opposition. What I liked most about this team was how they dealt with their last game against Cameroon – a totally meaningless contest. They could have just taken the day off like other teams in their position did, but instead they worked on some of their problems that they had encountered up to that point. They gave Robin van Persie ample opportunities to regain his offensive confidence, and let Arjen Robben get comfortable without risking further injury. It was a mature, impressive showing.

4. Spain – Many would have Spain higher, but this team still makes me nervous. Their loss against Switzerland was mystifying and their win over Honduras was underwhelming. They beat Chile when they had to, but the effort still wasn’t as strong and passionate as I would have liked to have seen. Spain is masterful at disappointing in big tournaments, and I haven’t seen enough here to be convinced that they are ready to reverse that trend.

5. Germany – After their first game I was pretty sure that Germany would be very tough to stop. Then Serbia stopped them reasonably easily in their second game. That was a serious blow to my perception of this team, though I still think that they have the talent and discipline to be a real factor. I don’t see them winning it, but they always seem to hang around for a while.

6. England – Of course, Germany has to get past England if they want to stay alive. England has been very disappointing in this tournament, and Wayne Rooney has been totally invisible. They still have the skill, and presumably the hunger, to make some noise here, though.

7. Uruguay – This is a dangerous, pesky team that is in very solid form here. They also got very lucky with the draw because they can avoid an elite team until at least the semifinals. If there is going to be a surprise team in the elimination rounds this is it.

8. Portugal – I should probably give this team more credit – they may have the best player in the tournament, after all – but I am just not impressed by what I have seen. The only time they really seemed to care – and the only time they scored – was when they beat up on a hopeless North Korean team. Other than that they have been fine, but they have lacked any killer instinct or offensive spark.

9. USA – The Americans deserve credit for what they have done so far – especially the comeback against Slovenia. Ultimately, though, they just don’t have the weapons to be a real contender. They could easily win a game against Ghana, and they would stand a chance of winning a second one against Uruguay or South Korea, but nice things get serious I think they’ll just be outmatched.

10. Ghana – The pride of being the only African team to survive this far could be a big factor for this team, and they certainly have the skill and athleticism to win a game, but like the Amercans they just don’t have what it takes to be a serious factor.

11. Chile – I really like this young Chilean team, and in the right circumstances they could be a squad to watch. Unfortunately, opening up against Brazil is far from the right circumstances. Tough luck.

12. Mexico – Mexico survived in Group A for just one reason – no one else wanted to get through. They weren’t great, but they were good enough. I have them as high as I do not becauseĀ  have been impressed – I really haven’t – but because I know that they have the ability to play better than they have. That being said, Argentina is an absolutely brutal matchup for them.

13. Paraguay – They are the worst group winner in the tournament, and it’s not even close. They benefited from the woes of Italy, and the bizarre ability of New Zealand to play everyone to a draw. They have given us no real reason to believe that they are a real factor. Their Round of 16 game against Japan is the least interesting of the eight that will be played by a whole lot.

14. Japan – I’m not that impressed with Japan overall – they just don’t have the depth or the speed to be a factor, and they are hurt by the fact that too many of their players play at home. Still, I was quite impressed by their win over Denmark. They are known as a defensive team with little offensive aptitude or interest, yet in that game they changed things up and were relentlessly offensive from the outset. Interesting. Not likely enough to get past Spain or Portugal in the quarterfinals, but still interesting.

15. South Korea – Someone had to be the second team to come out of Group B behind Argentina, and the Koreans earned that right. The fact that they were absolutely crushed by Argentina in a game that wasn’t as close as the 4-1 score, though, makes it hard to really take this team seriously.

16. Slovakia – Slovakia gets a pile of credit for beating Italy when they had to. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that they won that game because of something they did, though. Italy was a total mess, and they gave Slovakia every opportunity they had. None of the teams in this round – including first round opponent Netherlands – has nearly the issues or the vulnerabilities that the Italians showed as they attempted to defend their title.

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