World Cup Power Rankings How do all 32 teams measure up?
With the World Cup kicking off later this week, were sizing up the field. Taking squad lists, player fitness, and other intangibles into the equation, heres how we think all 32 teams stack up heading into the competition.
The most balanced team in the tournament.Brazilheads to Qatar eyeing a record-extending sixth World Cup title. Thanks to an ideal blend of obscene attacking talent - headlined, as always, byNeymar- and stout defensive structure, the Selecao are favored to capture the trophy for the first time in 20 years. By Brazilian standards, thats an eternity.
Argentinais whole again. Emerging from the ashes ofLionel Messis semi-international retirement in 2016, La Albiceleste enter the World Cup on a 35-match unbeaten run. Crucially, Messi has returned to form and seems to relish his role as captain. The scrappy ensemble by his side will do everything it can to crown his legendary career with success in Qatar.
Spaincouldve won Euro 2020. La Roja outplayed Italy in the semifinals, and while they ultimately lost on penalty kicks, they showed the world they had returned as a formidable force. Head coach Luis Enrique continues to favor youth over experience, and with the likes ofPedriandGaviplaying beyond their years, its easy to understand why.
The reigning champion looks vulnerable. Several key injuries have hit Didier Deschamps squad. Witch doctors may, or may not, be conspiring against star forwardKylian Mbappe. There have been disputes between players and the federation over image rights. And yet, despite all the drama,Franceis rife with more pure talent than anyone. Its hard to overlook that.
Belgiums vaunted Golden Generation has one final chance. This is it. Unfortunately, two key members of that core,Eden HazardandRomelu Lukaku, are either out of form or injured, while the rest of the aging team has weaknesses to be exploited. But with majestic midfielderKevin De Bruynepulling the strings, anything is possible for the Red Devils.
CanGermanyrediscover its status as a tournament team that always comes through in the clutch? Or will we see a repeat of the humbling group-stage exit from four years ago? The reality is likely somewhere in the middle. Thats where Hansi Flicks side is stuck right now; not in the upper echelon of true contenders but too good to be content with anything but a title. Its created an odd dynamic for a team yet to show consistency under Flick.
Head coach Fernando Santos is the only reasonPortugalisnt in the top five. Portugal is stacked with talent in every position, particularly in attack, but Santos risk-averse approach continues to shackle the countrys most creative players. WhileCristiano Ronaldoremains Portugals talisman,Bernardo SilvaRafael Leao, andBruno Fernandesmake up a compelling supporting cast.
Englandhas struggled to recapture the spirit it rode to the Euro 2020 final. Winless in their last six matches, the Three Lions look as disjointed as they ever have under the supervision of Gareth Southgate. The team he selected isnt even the best one available to him: WithBen ChilwellandReece Jamesout injured,Harry Maguiresomehow displacingFikayo Tomori, andIvan Toneys scoring form overlooked, England has plenty of doubters to prove wrong.
The Danes are looking to build on their inspiring run to the semifinals at Euro 2020. What Kasper Hjulmands malleable team lacks in outright star power, it makes up for with unity and cohesion.Denmark, more than most, is a team in the truest sense of the word, and, led by the playmaking ability ofChristian Eriksen, is capable of making a very deep run.
Abandoning the classic 4-3-3 formation may be sacrilege in theNetherlands, but headstrong manager Louis van Gaal has been vindicated by recent results and believes strongly that his 5-3-2 system gives the Dutch their best chance of finally - mercifully - ending their World Cup drought.Frenkie de JongandCody Gakpo, in particular, should thrive in Qatar.
WillSenegalbecome the first African nation to reach the semifinals of a World Cup? More importantly, willSadio Maneplay at all? The 30-year-old suffered a leg injury last week thats expected to rule him out of Senegals Group A matches against The Netherlands, Qatar, and Ecuador. But the Lions of Teranga are reigning AFCON champions and have leaders in goalkeeperEdouard Mendyand center-backKalidou Koulibaly.
Its a new era forUruguay. Sort of. Oscar Tabarez wont be on the bench this time around. But his replacement, Diego Alonso, is relying on several war horses that served his predecessor so well for years. Still led by the likes ofDiego GodinLuis Suarez, andEdinson Cavani, Uruguay has six players aged 35 or older in its World Cup squad.Fede Valverdeleads the next generation, but the old guard has one last foray.
Croatiais hoping a revamped defense and the unrelenting skills of iconic captainLuka Modricwill help the team go one step further than it managed four years ago. The 2018 World Cup finalist has one of the best midfield cores in Qatar, with Modric,Marcelo Brozovic, andMateo Kovacicproviding the foundation from which everything else stems for manager Zlatko Dalic.
Switzerlandis looking to shake its longstanding reputation as a solid, yet unspectacular team. The Swiss have pulled off some memorable victories in recent years but have never advanced beyond the quarterfinals at a major tournament. Theyve never had this high-flying version ofGranit Xhakaeither, though. The revitalized midfielder will look to carry over his Arsenal form.
Serbias looking to reach the round of 16 for the first time since the 1998 World Cup. It certainly has the tools to do so. WithSergej Milinkovic-Savicpatrolling midfield,Filip Kosticcausing chaos on the flank, andDusan Vlahovicrunning at defenders, Serbia can outmuscle and outscore the opposition.
Will someone step up to helpRobert LewandowskiPolands talisman has often been left to fend for himself up front, carrying his country with little help from his teammates. The Poles have several talented supporting actors at this tournament, though, with exciting attacking midfielderPiotr Zielinski, in particular, capable of making a big impact.
Canadas mens national team finished in first place in CONCACAF, beating both Mexico and the United States in a historic qualifying campaign predicated on teamwork and individual sacrifice.Alphonso Daviesis the star of this ensemble but far from the only bright light. Keep an eye on LillesJonathan David, who enters the tournament as one of Ligue 1s top scorers. Shifty Club Brugge wingerTajon Buchananis another standout.
Gregg Berhalter has at his disposal the most exciting array of players ever assembled by theUnited Statesheading into the World Cup. But does he know how to properly use his young, exuberant roster? Thats been a source of frustration throughout his tenure. The jury is still out. There have been too many abject performances for such a skilled group. The World Cup is the perfect place to flip that script.
Mexicoarrives in Qatar in disarray. Gerardo Tata Martino is under enormous scrutiny, fans are openly calling for his dismissal during matches, and injuries are a big concern, especially up front. El Tri, desperate to break their streak of last-16 eliminations, head to the World Cup in suboptimal condition. Perhaps the lowered expectations will actually serve Mexico well?
UnderestimateMoroccoat your own peril. This team has skill and graft in every outfield position. Right-backAchraf Hakimiis arguably its most explosive player. Hard-nosed center-backRomain Saisswears the armband. Right-wingerHakim Ziyechis back in the squad after a change in manager. And midfielderSofyan Amrabat- a bulldozer who eats up huge portions of the pitch - could emerge as one of the World Cups breakout stars.
FIFAs lowest-ranked team in the tournament, the perception ofGhanais still being unfairly hindered by the disastrous reign of former manager Milovan Rajevac. Theres much more reason for optimism under the current regime, though, with new boss Otto Addo convincing the likes ofTariq LampteyandInaki Williamsto swap allegiances and suit up for the Black Stars.
How far canGareth Balecarry his country in what may be his international swan song? The 33-year-old forward, who always seems to deliver when it counts forWales, still has the ability to conjure up special moments on the biggest stage, even if his club career has largely stagnated. The Welsh possess team spirit in spades, but Bales performances will ultimately determine their success.
WillSon Heung-Minbe fully fit?South Koreas prospects at the World Cup change drastically depending on whether or not the nations best player - by some margin - is at his incisive best after recently undergoing surgery for a facial fracture suffered withTottenham Hotspur. An impressive pairing in central defense provides a good backbone for Paulo Bentos team, but Son is unquestionably the focal point around which everything else orbits.
Gustavo Alfaro has builtEcuadorinto a robust side thats resilient and difficult to break down. A young squad headlined by all-action midfielderMoises Caicedo, a rapidly rising star withBrighton & Hove Albion, Ecuadors physicality will cause headaches for the opposition. But, ultimately, serious question marks over the teams ability to score goals loom large.
The wealth of attacking midfield talent in this squad is somewhat ruined by its lack of a clinical finisher; none of the center-forwards in the World Cup squad scored any ofJapans 12 goals during the final phase of qualifying. Theres also a huge risk in giving veteran defendersYuto NagatomoMaya Yoshida, andHiroki Sakaitoo many minutes in Qatar. The three players have a combined age of 102.
Getting a result from Brazil might be a stretch, but if all-round midfielderAndre-Frank Zambo Anguissacan find his Napoli form on the international stage,Camerooncould cause Serbia and Switzerland problems in Group G. Head coach Rigobert Song is also hugely popular with the squad and there are other stars in this squad - such as goalkeeperAndre Onanaand forwardEric Maxim Choupo-Moting- who boast big-game pedigree.
Theres some excitement aboutGarang Kuol, the teenager whos set to join Newcastle United in January, but hes yet to start a match for the A-Leagues Central Coast Mariners and has just one substitute appearance forAustralia. Dont put too much pressure on the lad. Elsewhere, some players missed the squad due to injury or a lack of playing time, while there are others - likeAwer MabilKye Rowles, andHarry Souttar- who made it despite being in a similar predicament. They may find it difficult to get up to speed.
Qatarhas thrown a lot of money into developing football since being awarded the 2022 World Cup, with most players in the national team squad hailing from Dohas Aspire Academy. The crowning achievement so far of this huge investment has been the Under-19 Asian Cup victory in 2014, where every player was developed at Aspire. However, Qatar reaching the World Cup knockout rounds in 2022 would be a miracle.
Iranwill need to find its focus amid political unrest back home and following some upheaval in the national team camp. Dragan Skocics controversial firing, re-hiring, and then dismissal in favor of Carlos Queiroz this summer created divisions in the camp -Sardar Azmounproudly backed Skocic while fellow attacking standoutMehdi Taremiwanted the Croatian gone - butSaman Ghoddostold theScore theres now more intensity in training. And, of course, Queiroz will look to make Iran a stubborn defensive unit in Qatar.
Sometimes, its OK to skip a World Cup match, and at this tournament, you could probably putTunisiaon the chopping block due to its uninspiring, defensive, risk-averse football. There have been some positive results in the lead-up to Qatar 2022, but dont expectWahbi KhazriandYoussef Msaknito put you on the edge of your seat. This will be a grind.
How isCelso Borgesonly 34? AndBryan Ruizis still trundling along at 37? Some names in this squad seem to have been around for decades, but dont be fooled: Colombian coach Luis Fernando Suarez has used 77 players since he was appointed in mid-2021. This is supposed to be a new era.Jewison Bennette, 18, is primed to headline the next generation and has already turned heads with a handful of substitute appearances for Sunderland. But will Costa Rica make a significant impact in Qatar right now? Dont count on it.
The Saudi Arabian game is on the rise under Herve Renard, as the national team played pass-heavy, attacking football during its AFC World Cup qualification campaign. Still, the gap between Saudi Arabia and most of the teams from other regions in this competition is considerable, especially when the Green Falcons historically strong attack lacks bite. The Saudis arguably have the toughest assignment in Qatar with Argentina, Mexico, and Poland rounding out their group.
World Cup Power Rankings: How do all 32 teams measure up?
Got something to say? Leave a comment below!
People who will define the 2022 World Cup
What does Qatars dark World Cup legacy mean for the future of soccer?
World Cup predictions: Champion, biggest flop, top scorer, and more
Infantino: Western critics of Qatar are hypocrites
World Cup X-factors: Each teams potential breakout player in Qatar
Get the latest trending sports news daily in your inbox
Sale of beer with alcohol banned at World Cup stadiums
FIFA president Infantino to stand unopposed for 3rd term
Mexicos Raul Jimenez to make return against Sweden
2022 World Cup squads: Full rosters for every team
World Cup preview: Everything you need to know about Group C
World Cup ambassador from Qatar denounces homosexuality
Get the latest trending sports news daily in your inbox
The ultimate, personalized mobile sports experience