World Cup 2014 Power Rankings: Top 20 Teams Heading to Brazil

Michael Cummings@MikeCummings37World Football Lead WriterMarch 5, 2012

World Cup 2014 Power Rankings: Top 20 Teams Heading to Brazil

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    With the midweek internationals completed, it's time to unveil a new set of World Cup 2014 power rankings.

    The World Cup is still more than two years away, but we're ranking our top 20 teams right now. Most of the names on this list will be very familiar. Others might surprise.

    To help with the rankings, we've taken into account three other rating systems: FIFA, ELO and SPI. All of those rankings are current as of March 4, 2012.

    Let us know what you think in the comments.

20. Zambia

1 of 20

    FIFA: 43

    ELO: 47

    SPI: 62

    Yes, Zambia. The Chipolopolo won the recent Africa Cup of Nations, beating Ivory Coast in the final. Along the way they also defeated African powers like Ghana and Senegal.

    So show the Chipolopolo some love, because they're gonna need it. Next, they have to get by a group that includes Ghana to advance in World Cup qualifying.

19. USA

2 of 20

    FIFA: 31

    ELO: 30

    SPI: 35

    Full disclosure: I'm American. And, yes, I went as crazy as everyone else about the victory over Italy.

    In the bigger picture, that win probably won't mean all that much. But it was the first time the US had beaten Italy. Ever.

    So for me, even though the win was relatively meaningless, it could serve as a stepping stone for the USMNT.

    (For real, though. Those new unis are ugly.)

18. Colombia

3 of 20

    FIFA: 32

    ELO: 23

    SPI: 22

    Colombia picked up a nice win of their own on international day, blanking Mexico 2-0 in Miami.

    It's an exciting time for Colombia. In Radamel Falcao, they have a bona fide attacking superstar. And in Jose Pékerman, they have a coach worthy of a Beavis and Butt-head joke.

17. Croatia

4 of 20

    FIFA: 9

    ELO: 10

    SPI: 14

    The rankings consistently place Croatia pretty high on their lists, and I can sort of understand why, considering all that attacking talent (Modric, Perisic, Olic, Eduardo and Jelavic, just to name a few).

    Still, I need to see them perform well at Euro 2012 before I consider myself convinced. This much is sure: that 3-1 loss to Sweden wasn't convincing at all.

16. Mexico

5 of 20

    FIFA: 21

    ELO: 13

    SPI: 9

    What's up with Mexico? They looked slow and flat in the loss to Colombia. Where's the team that ran rampant all over the US last year in the Gold Cup? (Or was the US just that bad?)

    I still think this is going to be a team to watch in 2014, where Chicharito could be a breakout star.

15. Bosnia-Herzegovina

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    FIFA: 19

    ELO: 41

    SPI: 18

    Here's a case of a team that looked pretty dang good in defeat. Bosnia-Herzegovina lost 2-1 to Brazil in Switzerland last week but raised eyebrows with their attacking flair (led by Manchester City's Edin Dzeko).

    If you're looking to follow an up-and-coming team that's still somewhat under the radar, these might be your guys.

14. Ivory Coast

7 of 20

    FIFA: 15

    ELO: 15

    SPI: 10

    Even after the loss to Zambia in the Africa Cup of Nations final, Ivory Coast are considered the class of the continent. And they certainly have the star-studded lineup to match.

    What do you think? Does Didier Drogba have one more World Cup left in him?

13. Russia

8 of 20

    FIFA: 13

    ELO: 17

    SPI: 15

    Russia looked solid in their 2-0 away win last week over Denmark, a team most rankings love (I left them out).

    And, hey, Andrei Arshavin even managed to score.

12. Chile

9 of 20

    FIFA: 12

    ELO: 12

    SPI: 12

    For once, the rankings agree. Who am I to argue?

    Serious question, though: Why did they play Ghana in Pennsylvania?

11. Sweden

10 of 20

    FIFA: 18

    ELO: 9

    SPI: 11

    Sweden are a maddening team, and that's appropriate—their best player is Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

    One day, they look awful losing to England. The next they rip Croatia to shreds.

    Which one is the real Sweden? It's impossible to know, but if Ibra keeps up his current form this summer, they'll be hard to beat at Euro 2012.

10. Italy

11 of 20

    FIFA: 8

    ELO: 10

    SPI: 16

    The loss to the US was bad, but this is still Italy we're talking about.

    They'll be prepared for Euro 2012.

9. England

12 of 20

    FIFA: 5

    ELO: 6

    SPI: 8

    England's rankings are high, but depending on how generous you're feeling, this is a team that's either in transition or disarray following the departure of Fabio Capello.

    Just a few months before a major international tournament, England don't have a manager (they have a caretaker manager who apparently wants them to cheat more), but they do have a captain who has gathered only 11 career caps.

    Yeah, that's a really low number. For comparison's sake, his counterpart in the Holland game was earning his 71st.

    So maybe they'll pull it together this summer, but that doesn't really sound like England, does it?

8. Argentina

13 of 20

    FIFA: 11

    ELO: 7

    SPI: 7

    Lionel Messi is ridiculous. He scored another hat trick—his first at the international level—against Switzerland on Wednesday as Argentina won 3-1.

    He'll be in his prime in 2014 (he is now, too), when the World Cup will be played pretty much in his backyard. Watch out.

7. France

14 of 20

    FIFA: 17

    ELO: 14

    SPI: 13

    That win over Germany was huge, and Olivier Giroud just keeps impressing. For the past year or so, this team has been on a resurgence. Can they become a true world power again?

    I wouldn't bet against them.

6. Portugal

15 of 20

    FIFA: 6

    ELO: 8

    SPI: 5

    Portugal's rankings are identical to England's, but they have two things going for them.

    They have a manager and Cristiano Ronaldo. Not that either mattered in the draw against Poland the other day.

5. Uruguay

16 of 20

    FIFA: 4

    ELO: 5

    SPI: 6

    Uruguay are always fun to watch, and Edinson Cavani is good enough to make people forget about Diego Forlan (for a few minutes anyway).

4. Brazil

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    FIFA: 7

    ELO: 3

    SPI: 3

    Really, FIFA? Brazil should never be outside the top five. Ever. Let's make this a rule.

    Anyway, Brazil didn't look particularly awesome in their 2-1 win over Bosnia-Herzegovina, but they were good enough to beat a very solid European team in Europe.

    Two years from now, they'll have home-field advantage and Neymar on their side. Should be fun.

3. Netherlands

18 of 20

    FIFA: 3

    ELO: 2

    SPI: 4

    The Dutch blew hot and cold against England last week but still won 3-2 at Wembley.

    That two-goal outburst in two second-half minutes was impressive, and Arjen Robben's opener was just about as good as it gets.

2. Germany

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    FIFA: 2

    ELO: 4

    SPI: 1

    Losing to France is never good for the Germans, but it was only a friendly. The real test will come this summer, when Die Mannschaft are expected to be Spain's main challengers.

1. Spain

20 of 20

    FIFA: 1

    ELO: 1

    SPI: 2

    Who else was it going to be?

    Spain dismantled Venezuela 5-0 last week and didn't even seem to break a sweat. In the process, they might have found a fox-in-the-box finisher in Roberto Soldado.

    Euro 2012 awaits.

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