With fewer than 100 days to go until the first ball is kicked in Russia, many of us are putting on our pundit hats. Despite the lack of true foresight in power rankings, they do give us a perception of where teams stand in the world and how well they are performing.
World Cup 2018 Dates
The World Cup commences on the 14th of June and ends on the 15th of July. That’s right ladies and gentlemen — a full-month of top class football for us all to enjoy!
Provisional squad lists of 35 players must be submitted to FIFA by May 14th. By June 4th, the final list of 23 will be sent to FIFA. The squads will travel to Russia at the end of May beginning their preparations for action. Once the final squads are announced, all the build-up, hype and excitement will truly be in full swing.
World Cup 2018 Schedule
- On 14th June, the World Cup begins with Russia taking on Saudi Arabia (16:00 GMT)
- From 15th June to the 24th June, the group stages will be in full force, with three games every day at separate times.
- From 25th June to the 28th June, it’s crunch time in the groups. Each group will complete with the final two fixtures taking place at the exact same time. Each individual group will be decided at different times.
- On Saturday 30th June the knockout phase begins and things hot up. Two fixtures will be played every day until 3rd
- A couple of days off before the quarter finals. Friday 6th and Saturday 7th July will have two quarter finals on each day.
- 10th and 11th July will each have one semi-final.
- 3rd Place Play Off on Saturday 14th.
- World Cup Final on 15th.
What can we make from the Power rankings of the World Cup 2018 teams?
Truthfully, power rankings can be unrepresentative, but there can be no argument with the current top two.
Current title holders, Germany, have a squad brimming with quality and currently occupy top spot. Last year’s Confederations Cup winners are aiming to be the first team since Brazil in 1958 and 1962 to retain the World Cup. In the modern-day age, this would be a phenomenal achievement.
The selection Joachim Low has at his disposal in midfield is astonishing: Ozil, Kroos, Khedira, Can, Draxler, Sane, Gundogan and Gotze. Yes, it’s quite frightening. Whilst they lack a true in-form striker, you would be very brave to rule out the Germans as serious contenders.
Currently placed in second are Brazil, who boast a squad, which rivals Germany’s. Many people’s favourites to lift the trophy, Brazil are showcasing a type of football which the Brazilian public hasn’t experienced for some time.
In attack, their selection of players capable of producing moments of magic is unmatched. In 2014, the reliance on Neymar stifled the team, but now they possess a host of in-form and hungry attacking players. Willian, Neymar, Douglas Costa, Firmino, Coutinho and Gabriel Jesus — it’s a gifted array of attacking talent.
Add to that a steady and balanced midfield with an experienced defense and in-form goalkeeper, and Brazil appear to be the complete package. If we look further down the rankings, let’s see if the rankings can provide us with any further insight.
Portugal, in third, are currently one place above Argentina. Despite their Euro 2016 win, it would be a huge surprise if Portugal end up victorious. Meanwhile, Argentina can certainly put up a serious challenge considering the talent they have to choose from.
Belgium sit in fifth and they undoubtedly have several quality players. Whether they can gel as a team is another question. They also lack real tournament experience.
Spain are currently sixth, which is probably about right. They are an exceptionally talented squad, but their last two tournament outings have been rather forgetful. Nonetheless, they still have the experience and ability to go all the way in Russia.
Poland and Switzerland, sitting in 7th and 8th place respectively, do not have the ability their rankings suggest. Looking further down the list, the rankings are generally representative of the actual quality of each country.
Despite the top ten being somewhat misleading, you can glean a pretty good idea of where each country stands in relation to one another from the power rankings.
Power Rankings In The World Cup 2018 Groups
We can get an inkling of what might happen in the groups through the power rankings.
Group A: Uruguay are the highest-placed team and Egypt are second. Uruguay are definite favourites to win the group, but Russia could pip Egypt to second place.
Group B: Spain and Portugal are firm favourites to go through in Group B. Portugal currently sit in third place in the rankings however, most would favour Spain to top the group.
Group C: France sit ninth in the rankings and should top their group. According to the rankings, Peru should join them. Denmark sit just behind them in the rankings. We favour Denmark to join France in the last 16.
Group D: Argentina sit fourth in the rankings and should finish 1st with no real problems in this group. We pick Croatia to progress with them. But, Nigeria and Iceland should not be ruled out. Nigeria are a far better team than their ranking of 52nd would suggest and Iceland could also cause problems. Any of the three can feasibly qualify with Argentina.
Group E: Brazil should finish top, which their ranking suggests. Switzerland’s position in the rankings does not represent the reality. Costa Rica sit above Serbia in the rankings. Any of these three could join Brazil in the knockout phase. Despite being the lowest ranked team in this group, we pick Serbia to join Brazil.
Group F: Germany are 1st in the rankings and should top this group. Mexico are 17th in the rankings and will probably qualify with the holders. Sweden, just below in 19th, could challenge Mexico.
Group G: Belgium, 5th in the rankings, should top this group closely followed by England, which is what the rankings suggest.
Group H: Poland currently sit 7th in the rankings, a seemingly inaccurate place. We favour Colombia to take 1st, with Poland in second, but Japan and Senegal definitely have the ability to qualify themselves.
The bottom line is that the power rankings are a useful tool to get an idea of who to look out for, but certainly do not tell the whole picture. Many variables inevitably come into play, and you should certainly not base your predictions solely on the power rankings.