Soccer

Re-Ranking the World Cup Squads Going into the Quarterfinals

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We’ve had some exciting games throughout the World Cup so far, and the round of 16 just added to the excitement. Last minute goals, penalty shootouts, and some overall thrilling play have contributed to a wonderful tournament so far. With only eight teams left with a chance at World Cup glory, we’ll attempt to rank them from top to bottom.

1) Brazil

They started slow against Mexico, but two second half goals from Neymar and Roberto Firmino sent Brazil through to the quarterfinals. This team started the tournament lethargically after a draw against Switzerland, but they look to be coming together as a team at the perfect moment. Only four years removed from a 7-1 defeat in the semifinal of the previous World Cup, can the odds on favorite team put everything together and make a run to the final? If they keep this up, it would be tough to bet against Brazil hoisting the trophy. 

Next match: vs Belgium, 7/6, 2 PM EST

2) France

Kylian Mbappe sure looked good against Argentina, winning a penalty and scoring two goals in a 4-3 France win. They topped group C, but weren’t entirely convincing in doing so. However, as a whole, this French team should be a force to be reckoned with. They simply blew away Argentina for most of the game, other than the two goals on both sides of halftime; and a couple Argentina chances in stoppage time. France have a young team, with enough talent to beat most remaining opponents on their best day.

Next match: vs Uruguay, 7/6 10 AM EST

3) Croatia

One of the higher scoring teams in the group stage, Croatia had some problems breaking down Denmark, who they eventually beat on penalties. Croatia have some great players in Luka Modric, Ivan Rakitic, and Ivan Perisic among others. They have great momentum as well, being one of only three teams that have won all their matches so far. Being on the “weaker” side of the bracket could be a huge boost, as they look to be the top team remaining on that side. The hosts are waiting however, and they’ve proven to be tougher to score against than most originally thought. 

Next match: vs Russia, 7/7 2 PM EST

4) Belgium

They showed incredible fight coming back from a 2-0 deficit to defeat Japan 3-2. Scoring on the last kick of the game provided some extra dramatics. Belgium still haven’t lost a game at this World Cup either, but a showdown against Brazil is upcoming. They have looked the part of the better team in every match so far, but they have yet to face a team with as much talent as Brazil have. It will be interesting to see if Eden Hazard and co can step their game up, and the golden generation of Belgium can reach a final. They will need to perform better than they did against Japan.

Next match: vs Brazil, 7/6, 2 PM EST

5) England

The impossible has happened, England have won on penalties. Speaking of: half of Harry Kane’s goals have been penalties, but he still leads the golden boot race as well for this England team. Outside of the Belgium match, where both teams rested most of their regular starters anyway, they didn’t face any threat in the group stage. Colombia proved to be a challenging, if not a tad “chippy” opponent; even scoring a last minute goal to send it to extra time. But in the end, England survived and will now face Sweden in the quarters. They’ve shown some fight in this tournament that could turn out well for all the people saying that “it’s coming home.”

Next match: vs Sweden, 7/7 10 AM EST

6) Uruguay

They haven’t played the toughest schedule so far, but they’ve still managed to win every game, and have only given up one goal in the process. Uruguay also managed to knock off the reigning European champions, and now have to face the runners up of the same Euro 2016 tournament. A solid defense will be put to the test, as will a front line led by Luis Suarez. An injury to Edinson Cavani will make it even tougher to advance, and while it should be a close match, they likely won’t be favored to make the semi final against a very solid French team. But as we’ve seen so far in this tournament, anything can happen.

Next match: vs France, 7/6 10 AM EST

7) Sweden

Life without Zlatan Ibrahimovic has gone well for Sweden so far. They topped a group featuring Mexico and Germany, and were slightly unlucky not to defeat the holders. Germany is still the only team to score against Sweden at this World Cup. And while they did beat Switzerland 1-0, although the Swiss were without top defender Stephan Lichtsteiner, they will need to keep up their solid defense against England. Sweden are playing well at the moment, and it wouldn’t be a huge shock to see them through to the semi-final despite not showing too much in their attack.

Next match: vs England, 7/7 10 AM EST

8) Russia

The hosts may be my lowest ranked team in the World Cup this year, but they’re through to the quarterfinals thanks to a shootout victory over Spain. It wasn’t the prettiest game I’ve watched, but it was effective. They have played well enough in the tournament so far to where their place in the quarters isn’t exactly a fluke, and the home field advantage they’ve enjoyed will continue for at least one more round. Except for the match against Uruguay, a 3-0 loss, they have only allowed two goals (an own goal and a penalty at that). They will need to take their chances against a Croatian team that will likely make them pay for any missteps.

Next match: vs Croatia, 7/7 2 PM EST

Photo Credit: FIFA.com

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