We’re one round of group fixtures into the World Cup, and while it may be early, we do have a one game window into looking at the tournament favourites and teams that have impressed. While not every team on this list won, expectation and talent on the pitch is still taken into account when compiling this power rankings list, and with it being the World Cup, there’s every chance it’ll turn upside down after the second round of fixtures. So before the second round kicks off with Wales vs Iran, here’s a look at the top ten power ranking after the first round of the 2022 Qatar World Cup.
10th – Germany
Kicking us off are the 2014 champions and four-time overall champions Germany. After an uncharacteristically disappointing World Cup in 2018, the Germans came into 2022 with a somewhat rejuvenated squad that features star talent like Joshua Kimmich, Antonio Rüdiger, Serge Gnabry, and the highly talented teenager Jamal Musiala. It was all going to plan for Hansi Flick’s side, they dominated the game against Japan and led at halftime through an İlkay Gündoğan penalty
But Germany couldn’t put the game to bed, and Japan went onto two score goals in eight minutes to flip the game in it’s head! This isn’t a bad Germany team, they dominated this game in shots, possession and passes. But they have a way to go to get back to their 2006-2016 level of consistency and dominance. Their next game is against Spain, a must win game now for Germany.
9th – Belgium
The third-place team in 2018 came into this tournament with question marks, and although they defeated Canada 1-0 in their opening game, it was far from convincing.
Belgium was bailed out by their goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois who saved a penalty from Alphonso Davies, and the aged Belgian defence gave up twenty-two shots on the day, in contrast Belgium created just nine. But they got the win, a Michy Batshuayi strike just before half time was enough to give the Belgians the win and the upper hand in the group. They know they’ll have to perform much better to go on a deep run, and they’ll be hoping to put in a better performance against Morocco.
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8th – Japan
The highest-ranked team from outside Europe and South America, Japan came into this tournament as the consensus strongest team from Asia, and after the opening round of fixtures, perhaps the strongest team from Asia/Africa and North America!
Japan did well to limit Germany to just one goal, and with their fast-paced attack, it was the perfect scenario in which Japan could strike quickly through Doan and Asano. With Costa Rica looking as if they won’t be up to much, getting out of the group has gone from improbability, to likely. Once out of the group, who knows what the Blue Samurai’s limit is?
7th – Argentina
Good teams don’t become bad teams overnight, Argentina was a heavy favorite going into this tournament, but they sure do have work to do! It was all going so well for La Albiceleste, their talisman Lionel Messi gave them the lead going into halftime, abut it all went wrong from there.
Two quick-fire goals from the Saudis changed the game on its head, and despite creating some chances, Argentina couldn’t find an equalizer. This loss could be a blessing in disguise, having a thirty-six-game unbeaten run over their head could’ve served as an albatross around this team’s neck further into the tournament, getting a defeat out of the way early may allow this team to relax more. There is also a sense of urgency now, Argentina can’t drop any more points, and their next game against Mexico could quite possibly be legacy-defining for Lionel Messi
6th – Portugal
Now that was entertaining! A big crux against this Portugal side has been the cautious nature of head coach Fernando Santos, who has often been accused of holding his talented attacking players back in favour of a more pragmatic system.
Portugal started with João Félix, Bernardo Silva, Bruno Fernandes, Otávio, and Cristiano Ronaldo in their eleven, all attacking players which culminated in the team scoring three goals against Ghana, enough to win a high-scoring game 3-2 and getting their campaign off to a good start. The key to Portugal is using Ronaldo correctly and utilizing their attacking talent, providing they do that, then this team’s ceiling will be higher than we once thought!
5th – The Netherlands
It’s great to have the Dutch back at the World Cup, and in a way, it felt like the never left. In their World Cup game since 2014, the Netherlands played a very talented Senegal team that despite missing Saido Mané, was still good enough to give the Dutch problems.
But the Netherlands persisted, they have a talented team with Cody Gakpo, Denzel Dumfries, Frenkie de Jong and Memphis Depay amongst their ranks, and they eventually broke Senegal down with two late goals. Still set to play Qatar, a place in the last sixteen looks to be incredibly likely for Louis van Gaal’s men.
4th – England
So much for the panic beforehand. There was a real sense of pessimism around England going into the tournament, with injuries to key players like Ben Chilwell and Reece James beforehand not helping. Iran were seen as a team who would be very dogged to break down and would frustrate England.
But England quite frankly dismantled Iran. Goals from Bellingham, Sterling, and Saka before halftime effectively ended the game before the second half even began. And from there they piled on the style! Further goals from Saka, Rashford, and Grealish made it six for England, and although Iran scored twice (one being a very suspect penalty), it was a cruise-control victory for the Three Lions. The English were worried before the tournament kicked off, but if they keep this up, those worries will look silly
3rd – Spain
Going into the tournament, the big question around Spain was if this this team was clinical enough to be a genuine contender. They have plenty of talent in Gavi, Pedri and Dani Olmo, but they have struggled to break teams down that can with stain their pressure as was seen at the Euros.
Spain opened the tournament against Costa Rica, and quickly put the question of how clinical they are to bed! La Roja tore the Central Americans apart. Goals from Olmo, Torres (x2), Morata, Soler, Asensio and Gavi have Spain a 7-0 win, their largest ever win at a World Cup. It was a typical Spanish performance, complete with 82% possession, over 1000 passes completed and a passing accuracy of 93% which summed out just how dominant they were. Spain have found their scoring boots, which instantly makes them dangerous in this tournament.
2nd – France
The narrative of the holder’s curse was always going to surround this team, but if anyone could break it, it would be the country that has been an absolute talent factory for about a decade now! France has key injuries with Karim Benzema, Paul Pogba, Ngolo Kante, Presnel Kimpembe, and Christopher Nkunku all out, that’s enough of a talent drain to cripple any other team in the world, but not Les Bleus.
France still has the likes of Ousmane Dembélé, Kylian Mbappé, Antoine Griezmann, Olivier Giroud, and Kingsley Coman, and even when Australia took the lead, it never seemed in doubt. France didn’t panic and took over the game, ultimately coming out on top 4-1 in a comfortable win. Denmark and Tunisia’s draw makes winning the group a lot easier, and if they can break the curse and reach the last sixteen, then who’s to say they can’t repeat?
1st – Brazil
A Seleção came into the tournament as the favorite, and against Serbia, they showed why that is the case. This is arguably the most talented Brazilian side put together since 2002, with Richarlison, Neymar, Vinícius Júnior, Gabriel Jesus, Raphinha, Casemiro, and Fabinho all featuring in this squad, and that’s not even all of the star players!
Against a very good Serbia side, Brazil created plenty of chances, hitting the woodwork twice, eight shots on target, and two goals from Richarlison, with his second goal arguably already the goal of the tournament, (if you haven’t seen it, look it up right now). There is a lot of expectation on this team, and although it’s just been one game, there’s nothing to suggest they can’t match the expectation put upon them.
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