World Cup Group Stage Power Rankings
Article by Adam Scott-Allen
The group stages are now over. After 15 glorious days of consecutive football the cold turkey of a
footballless Friday has driven the world to distraction. The closest I could get to methadone was a
meticulous ranking of every World Cup nation based on performance.
Their first World Cup appearance and it really showed. A low level of technical football that at
times fell into the category of outright thuggery. Always has a tough ask up against Belgium and
England and their goal against Tunisia in the final game meant this was the first World Cup where
every team scored at least twice.
A team between generations. A squad of ageing players was always expected to struggle. And
while they also scored two goals they were both penalties. For me they were lucky to get an
undeserved draw against Denmark and should have been eliminated before their defeat to Peru.
The injury to Mo Salah obviously had a huge impact on Egypt’s preparations but this was a team
that didn’t appear to be set up for their own strengths. With Salah risked in the second game he
was clearly not fit and with that they were shown to have no plan B.
Eliminated after two games when they were the top seed is a huge disappointment. No goals for
Lewandowski and were shown up by the performance of other already eliminated teams in their
final group game while Poland floundered (despite winning) against Japan.
Arrogance? Possibly. Players in poor form? Probably. Das Reboot 2.0? Hopefully not. Caught out
again and again by Mexico on the break only to not learn against Sweden. Listless against South
Korea, the biggest crime is perhaps that one of the moments of the tournament, Toni Kroos’ last
minute goal, was all for nothing.
27. Costa Rica
After the impressive last 16 performance from World Cup 2014 a toothless group stage
performance may be considered a bit of a letdown. This squad is now past its peak and needs
freshening up. They were at least able to do their bit in the final game to ensure every team had
scored a goal.
26. Saudi Arabia
After getting a 5-0 hammering as they ran into the buzzsaw of a host nation opening up the
tournament it seemed fair that people though things might get embarrassing against Uruguay,
even envoking thoughts of their 8-nil defeat to Germany in 2002. Luckily not only were they able
to galvanise their defence but also scored their first World Cup victory in 24 years against Egypt.
The media darling (did you know the only have a population of 330,000 people? Me neither). After
their over performance at the expense of England in Euro 2016 maybe a lot was expected. An
opening draw with Argentina would have been a source of national pride. Even if it was at the
expense of some very limited football.
Didn’t win any friends in their opening game against England with their unadventurous style of
play. Forced to be more progressive against Belgium as the required a result and were put to the
sword. Based on their qualifying performance I think people are right to be disappointed.
Just above their North African cousins, this was probably another slightly disappointing
performance based on qualifying performance. Made the group incredibly hard work for
themselves after losing to unfancied Iran in their opening game. It in a good showing at the end
Brought the group stages alive, or at least their fans did. Had the feel good story with Paolo
Guerrero, played an attractive brand of football and frankly I’m a sucker for a sash. A shame that
their World Cup was over in 8 days they achieved a well deserved win against Australia.
21. South Korea
Will be revered around the world for their heroic performance to eliminate Germany. They may
have had dreams of making the last 16 but I think realistically they would have expected to finish
third in the group. When the players tell their grandchildren they finished above Germany at a
World Cup it will be a downer when they ask to see the medal.
From the attacking side that dominates Asian qualifying Iran were dower and defensive to begin
with. They grew into the tournament and had a genuine chance of a knock out stage appearance
during their game against Portugal. Maybe a braver coach will play attacking football from the off
Made the last 16 but Sampaoli has lost control (if he ever had it) and the inmates are running the
asylum. Mascherano is clearly emotionally very important to the team but his performance on the
field is nothing short of terrible. David Squires images of Messi playing carrying a literal goat might
improve things. Will be destroyed by the first half decent team they face.
Also made the last 16 with perhaps not the most impressive performances in the group stages but
certainly one of the best goals. Unlucky not to win against Australia and played out the worst
game and only 0-0 of the tournament so far. Will last struggle to get much further.
Always had a tough task with their group but were many people’s dark horses going into the
tournament. Maybe didn’t reach the heights people were hoping for but certainly didn’t
disappoint. Involved in one of the games of the tournament against Switzerland which they were
unlucky to lose. Having won the 2015 under 20 World Cup perhaps bright times are ahead.
Stay tuned for part two coming very soon
Founder and award winning host of the Man on the Post podcast.