Ranking Every National Team in World Football After the World Cup Group Stage

Frank WagnerCorrespondent IJune 27, 2014

Ranking Every National Team in World Football After the World Cup Group Stage

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    Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press

    For the first time in this World Cup, there's a day without football, giving everyone a chance to catch their breath and recollect on this whirlwind tournament.

    While some nations are flying into unexpected berths in the knockout phase of the tournament, others have already boarded flights home after a disappointing three matches.

    Since this is the biggest and most important tournament in international football, the ramifications of the past two weeks of action are obviously far-reaching, with some managers already departing and leaving their nation in a state of transition.

    So where do all of the national teams stand after the group stage of the 2014 World Cup?

    Here is the latest installment of the Wagner World Rankings.

Methodology

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    Thanassis Stavrakis/Associated Press

    For those of you who are new to these rankings and this system, let's break down the mathematical process that goes into it.

    To begin with, every match from the last four years is assigned a value based on its importance. For example, the World Cup final is given much more weight than a random friendly.

    The four-year window seems to be the perfect amount of time—a shorter period gives too small a sample size and a larger one would likely represent a different side.

    After every match is given a value and compiled, each team is assigned a score for every match based on four factors:

    • The result of the match
    • Whether the match was home, away or at a neutral venue
    • How strong the opposition was
    • How recently the match was played

    Finally, factoring in any matches a team missed out on (i.e. matches at World Cups they didn't qualify for) and giving every continental tournament a new weight produces a score out of 1,000 points.

    Every team is then ranked based on these points.

    One should note that this does not produce a ranking based on form alone.

    As a result, many teams may seem higher or lower in the rankings than one might expect because of drastic changes in form over relatively short periods of time.

    For example, performing well over a year may push a team up the table quickly, but relatively awful performances over the three years prior could hold the team back.

    Hence, it allows a ranking that factors in both form and consistency, a quality that is highly undervalued.

    What's more, some obvious issues come into play with this round of rankings, what with some teams heading into the knockout stages. While these teams do get a bit of a boost, it's not as much as they will get when they actually finish the tournament.

    Plus, the knockout stages from the 2010 World Cup still happened within the past four years and are therefore included in these rankings, helping some teams that are already heading home from Brazil. In the next few weeks, that factor will disappear and truly impact upon them.

    Thus, one should not look at these rankings as a tool for predicting the results of the knockout stages, but rather a measure of the class each side has shown over their most recent cycle.

    So, without further ado, here are the latest rankings.

210-61

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    Dolores Ochoa/Associated Press

    Because the World Cup is a showcase of the world's best international sides, it should come as no surprise that virtually no change has come to the sides ranked below 60 over the past few weeks.

    So, for the sake of space, one can refer back to the pre-tournament rankings, found here, to see where those nations are ranked.

    One notable team in that range, though, is Cameroon, who fell one spot from 77 to 78 after crashing out of Group A with zero points.

    Meanwhile, the team who fell slightly (due to other teams moving up and down around them) and is now out of the top 60 is Georgia.

60-31

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    Martin Meissner/Associated Press
    Rank NationPoints out of 1000Change
    60Bulgaria311.63-5
    59Bolivia311.66-1
    58Albania312.30-1
    57Iceland314.04-1
    56Zambia319.45+5
    55Belarus321.49-1
    54Montenegro331.15-1
    53Norway333.45-2
    52Armenia336.17-2
    51Honduras336.29-8
    50Israel338.29+2
    49Finland340.670
    48Scotland340.940
    47Slovenia341.82-1
    46Slovakia349.16-1
    45Algeria349.21+14
    44Burkina Faso353.62+3
    43Iran356.47+1
    42Serbia364.43-3
    41South Korea370.55-10
    40Peru370.970
    39Austria372.41+3
    38Venezuela377.29-1
    37Poland377.66+1
    36Hungary381.13+5
    35Paraguay386.15-2
    34Rep Ireland386.850
    33Turkey388.67+2
    32Australia395.61-8
    31Romania399.85+1

     

    Analysis

    There was a fair bit of movement in this group of teams, most of which was caused by the five nations in it that took part in the World Cup in Brazil.

    Honduras had a fairly low ranking coming into the tournament, so their ranking did not drop drastically despite their atrocious performances and zero-point finish.

    Australia, on the other hand, had a decent ranking before going out in their group with zero points, but their ranking didn't suffer too badly given the incredibly difficult group they were drawn into.

    Even though Iran barely scored throughout the tournament, they fell just one spot, aided by their draw with eventual group runners-up Nigeria.

    South Korea were the real disappointment in this group, picking up just one point in what looked on paper to be an easy group.

    Their conquerors, Algeria, pull up the rear for the teams entering the round of 16. While the Desert Foxes were tipped to have already been eliminated, they earned four points to progress out of their group.

    Algeria has already seen a big rise in the rankings and will surely see another when they finally finish this campaign, especially if they can pick up another victory along the way.

30-16

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    Petr David Josek/Associated Press
    Rank NationPoints out of 1000Change
    30Czech Republic403.74-1
    29Denmark415.78+1
    28Japan417.62-5
    27Costa RicaCosta Rica424.85+9
    26Ukraine425.55+2
    25Ivory Coast435.57+1
    24Ghana435.63-2
    23Sweden441.90+2
    22Ecuador445.24-1
    21Bosnia and Herzegovina448.96-3
    20CroatiaCroatia450.10-4
    19Nigeria459.34+8
    18Mexico474.50+2
    17Switzerland478.16+2
    16USA479.22+1

     

    Analysis

    Not surprisingly, the biggest upward movers in this set of teams are Costa Rica and Nigeria.

    Not many people fancied Costa Rica to get out of its group with three former world champions, but the Central American country played fantastically and finished top of Group D on seven points.

    Meanwhile, Nigeria was able to grit out a tough victory over Bosnia and Herzegovina (maybe with a little help from the referee) to all but book its place in the last 16.

    On the other side, it may seem harsh that Mexico and the USA barely moved up at all after getting through and thriving in particularly difficult groups (especially in the USA's case). Though the two nations got out of their respective groups four years ago, it was done so via wins they just lost due to the four-year window.

    Good performances in their round of 16 matches, coupled with other nations losing their knockout wins from South Africa, should see them rise quickly in the coming weeks.

15-6

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    Hassan Ammar/Associated Press
    Rank NationPoints out of 1000Change
    15Russia481.09-5
    14England487.65-5
    13Chile491.99+2
    12Greece494.41+1
    11PortugalPortugal503.05-3
    10Belgium507.15+4
    9ItalyItaly513.39-3
    8France522.32+4
    7Uruguay527.870
    6Colombia545.40+5

     

    Analysis

    While a few nations that were already sent home from Brazil are resting on past accomplishments to remain in this group, the upper end of this set of teams is filled with talent that are posing massive threats in the knockout stage.

    Colombia were arguably the best side in the group stage, winning all three matches and looking good doing so.

    France left the terrible memory of 2010 behind and decimated Honduras and Switzerland in its first two matches before taking it easy in its third.

    Uruguay was able to get past England and Italy to make it out of a tough group, but they face questions with the loss of Luis Suarez.

    Belgium wasn't exactly thrilling in its first three matches, but they still picked up a hat-trick of wins.

    A few good turns for any of those teams and they will surely give any nation a run for its money.

    A little bit lower, there is Greece, a team that somehow keeps scraping by. For the second consecutive major tournament, the Greeks got an improbable win in their final match to make it to the knockout stage. If one does not enjoy watching their matches, they should at least appreciate Greece's consistency.

    As for Chile, a team tipped as a dark horse coming into the tournament, the South Americans picked up a major scalp when they beat and knocked out defending champions Spain. However, they looked pedestrian against Netherlands, raising questions heading into an extremely difficult battle with hosts Brazil in the round of 16.

5. Argentina

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    Jon Super/Associated Press
    Rank NationPoints out of 1000Change
    5ArgentinaArgentina559.57-1

     

    Analysis

    Despite picking up maximum points in its group, Argentina never quite looked like it was firing on all cylinders.

    Lionel Messi might finally be getting the goals at the World Cup, but the team hasn't looked like the dominant force they were expected to be.

    Still, with such talent at Argentina's disposal, it wouldn't be too surprising to see Messi hoisting the trophy in a few weeks.

4. Netherlands

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    Natacha Pisarenko/Associated Press
    Rank NationPoints out of 1000Change
    4NetherlandsNetherlands569.09+1

     

    Analysis

    Four years on from that heartbreaking loss in the 2010 World Cup final, the stage seemed set for Netherlands to fail in Brazil.

    They had a tough group, a few injury concerns and a lame duck for a coach.

    So much for that theory.

    Nine points later, it seems as though the Dutch have exorcised the demons of Soccer City with an emphatic victory over Spain while showing that they can grind out results with their win over Chile.

    With that, though, the pressure is back on Netherlands, as they are now establishing themselves as favorites to reach the semifinals.

    Dutch hearts probably can't take another loss in a final, but this side look primed for another deep run.

3. Brazil

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    Natacha Pisarenko/Associated Press
    Rank NationPoints out of 1000Change
    3Brazil596.570

     

    Analysis

    The World Cup hosts stumbled once in their group when they were held to a 0-0 draw against Mexico, but Brazil has looked in first gear so far.

    With so much pressure on these players to right the wrongs of 1950, the question now is whether they can kick their games into top gear and run away with this tournament like they should.

    "Home-field advantage" is a term that may sound ideal, but for a country that's waited 64 years for this moment, it can be quite a burden on the players.

2. Spain

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    Michael Sohn/Associated Press
    Rank NationPoints out of 1000Change
    2SpainSpain602.88-1

     

    Analysis

    For the first time since the inception of these rankings, Spain is not number one.

    After a shocking first two matches saw the reigning World Cup and European champions ousted in the group stage, the Spaniards have given up their reign at the top of these rankings.

    It speaks to this side's greatness that such a devastating loss only dropped them one spot, but that will compound over the next few weeks as their World Cup final victory fades into the past.

    The king is dead.

     

1. Germany

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    Petr David Josek/Associated Press
    Rank NationPoints out of 1000Change
    1Germany612.49+1

     

    Analysis

    Germany opened their 2014 World Cup with one of the biggest statements of the tournament, dominating 10-man Portugal and throttling them 4-0.

    Fresh questions seemed to arise about this team after the 2-2 draw with Ghana, but those seemed to be answered in an emphatic 1-0 win over the USA where Germany seemed barely to break a sweat.

    The talent overflowing in Germany makes one wonder if there is a team out there capable of slowing them down.

    However, recent history forces one to question whether this side is mentally strong enough to finally come good at the end of a major tournament.