90min's definitive World Cup power rankings: Matchday 2

Kyle Picknell
Brazil are yet to concede a goal in Qatar or even face a shot on target
Brazil are yet to concede a goal in Qatar or even face a shot on target / Clive Brunskill/GettyImages
facebooktwitterreddit

As a number of teams fight to keep their World Cup hopes and dreams alive this week, it's time to take a look back at the second round of group stage fixtures and reassess our power rankings.

There are four new entries this week, demonstrating either just how topsy-turvy this World Cup has been so far or how bad I am at ranking international teams. Hint: it's definitely the former.

The heroes from the opening set of games, Japan and Saudi Arabia, have made way for more traditional powerhouses. Ecuador, Switzerland and Ghana can consider themselves unlucky not to make the cut-off after their two games.

Here are the ten best teams left in the competition (sorry Canada and Qatar) as we hurl headlong into a tantalising third set of fixtures before the serious stuff gets underway.


10. Germany (new entry)

Jamal Musiala
Jamal Musiala has been one of the standout players at this World Cup / Richard Sellers/GettyImages

As a team on a single point, it might be a slight surprise to find Germany propping up the power rankings table. Even so, they do merit a place. Their performance against Spain was a vast improvement after the Japan debacle, particularly in the second half.

With Costa Rica still to play in their final group game and Leroy Sane returning to full fitness (and hopefully the starting line-up), they will likely look far more dangerous from this point on. First things first, Hansi Flick needs to get his team into the last 16.

9. Argentina (new entry)

Argentina v Mexico: Group C - FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022
Argentina live to fight another day / Anadolu Agency/GettyImages

Argentina have been far from their best so far but the dramatic win over Mexico will have done Lionel Scaloni and his players a world of good. Like Germany, the task now is simple: they must beat Poland to ensure their qualification for the knockout stages.

This team is more than capable of overpowering a Poland side who miraculously find themselves at the top of Group C. Argentina will need to be wary of the threat Robert Lewandowski and Piotr Zielinski pose but they should get the job done. From there, things can only improve for Messi and co. And it is very much Messi and co.

8. Netherlands (down 3)

Virgil Van Dijk
Netherlands must improve in their final group game against Qatar / Laurence Griffiths/GettyImages

It's difficult to know where to place Netherlands after their opening two games. They just about earned the win against Senegal but were lucky to hold on to a draw with Ecuador in a game their South American opponents dominated.

Regardless, this is still a good side on paper and the Dutch should rack up the goals and boost their confidence in their final group game against Qatar. It's then up to Louis van Gaal to tinker his way into a winning formula by the time the round of 16 starts.

7. Croatia (new entry)

Andrej Kramaric, Ivan Perisic, Dejan Lovren
Croatia were back to their best against Canada / Fantasista/GettyImages

After playing out a 0-0 draw with Morocco in their opening fixture, the feel-good factor returned to the Croatia camp following their 4-1 win over Canada on Sunday. Ivan Perisic, Matteo Kovacic and Andrej Kramaric impressed in particular, while young centre-back Josko Gvardiol is already one of the best defenders in Europe.

They have Belgium still to play but given the Red Devils' performances so far, this should be another win for Croatia and a safe passage into the knockout stages.

6. Morocco (new entry)

Achraf Hakimi
Morocco were brilliant in their 2-0 win over Belgium / Simon M Bruty/GettyImages

It was hard not to get swept away with Morocco following their 2-0 win over Belgium on Sunday. Their back four of Achraf Hakimi, Romain Saiss, Nayef Aguerd and Noussair Mazraoui were extremely impressive, as was Sofyan Amrabat in midfield. In Hakim Ziyech and Sofiane Boufal they have two forwards capable of producing moments of magic out of nothing, too.

Basically, this is a very good team and one you should keep an eye out for - although they will likely be playing Spain in the next round. They do, however, have both the ability and squad morale to cause an upset or two.

5. England (down 2)

Jude Bellingham
Jude Bellingham strides away from Yunus Musah / Simon M Bruty/GettyImages

The 0-0 draw with the USA didn't exactly set the world alight but England are in a comfortable position heading into their final group game against Wales, needing only to avoid a defeat by four goals to qualify for the knockout rounds.

This will give Gareth Southgate a chance to rest key players and (hopefully) give game time to the likes of Phil Foden and Jack Grealish, who could both prove decisive as we progress further into the tournament. The optimism has been diminished somewhat after the resounding 6-2 over Iran, but there is still hope this squad might just put it all together in time to face the big boys.

4. Spain (-)

Jamal Musiala, Pedri, Gavi
Pedri and Gavi battle with Jamal Musiala / Lars Baron/GettyImages

A 1-1 draw with Germany has also dampened expectations for Spain after their 7-0 obliteration of Costa Rica in the opening game, but they do still look like a problem under Luis Enrique.

With a midfield three of Sergio Busquets, Pedri and Gavi, Spain will pass you to death if you give them half an opportunity. Up front, Alvaro Morata may well be a better option than Marco Asensio moving forward, while the defence looks slightly suspect with Rodri out of position at centre-back.

That being said, this is still a quality outfit with the potential to go far.

3. Portugal (up 3)

Joao Felix, Cristiano Ronaldo, Bernardo Silva
Cristiano Ronaldo isn't the player he once was, but that might not matter for Portugal / Richard Sellers/GettyImages

It was nervy at times against Uruguay and in the end, an atrocious penalty decision helped them secure the win but Portugal have at least qualified for the knockout stages with a game to spare from a relatively tough group.

While their backline and midfield do look shaky, Portugal have an abundance of attacking talent they can rely on to cause any team in the tournament problems. Rafael Leao, for example, is far too good to be a substitute and Fernando Santos must find a to fit the AC Milan forward into his starting XI. He is a real difference-maker and has proved as much in his cameos off the bench.

2. France (-)

Antoine Griezmann, Kylian Mbappé, Ousmane Dembélé, Olivier Giroud, Jules Kounde, Raphaël Varane, Hugo Lloris, Theo Hernández
France made it six points from six after their 2-1 win over Denmark / Lionel Hahn/GettyImages

France look like the only nation that might be able to match Brazil as we wrap up the group stages. Nothing much has changed following their 2-1 win over a good Denmark side.

Kylian Mbappe is still playing out of his mind, Ousmane Dembele seems to have regained form at just the right moment and Dayot Upamecano and Theo Hernandez are two relatively new additions in defence that have both greatly improved the team as a whole. Things are looking good so far for Didier Deschamps.

1. Brazil (-)

FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022"Brasil - Switzerland"
Brazil celebrate after Casemiro's winner against Switzerland / ANP/GettyImages

Brazil have been imperious during their opening two games. Switzerland battled well and had hopes of clinging on to a draw before Brazil broke their hearts in the 82nd minute via a Casemiro volley.

Even without Neymar, the Selecao are a class above most opposition - even if it hasn't quite shown in the scorelines. Going against the traditional grain, it is Brazil's defence that has shone - they are yet to concede a goal or even face a shot on target.

For now, at least, they still remain slight favourites ahead of France.

facebooktwitterreddit