Matthew Leckie has been among the Socceroos' top performers.
Matthew Leckie has been among the Socceroos' top performers.

Where Socceroos actually rank

BELGIUM is the best team in Russia, Panama is the worst and after entering the World Cup with low expectations, Australia has proven it's better than about a third of the sides here.

That's the conclusion of the second edition of our World Cup power rankings, which put the 32 teams in order of who we'd expect to win if they met in the final in Moscow today. One would beat two, two would beat three and so on.

There's been several big climbs and drops now everyone has played two matches, showing how quickly reputations can change in the World Cup.

The final games of the group phase begin tonight but already a quarter of the teams have been eliminated and several more have unrealistic chances of progressing.


Harry Kane is having an impressive tournament.
Harry Kane is having an impressive tournament.

1. Belgium (Last time: 2nd, Results: 3-0 vs Panama, 5-2 v Tunisia) - Say what you want about Belgium's defensive stability but the early signs suggest they might just outscore everyone. Romelu Lukaku has back-to-back braces and Eden Hazard is in everything. Will they go all out against England?

2. Brazil (LT: 4th, R: 1-1 vs Switzerland, 2-0 v Costa Rica) - It took until injury time to find the goals against Costa Rica but Brazil has dominated its two games and is looking like pre-tournament favourite it was two weeks ago.

3. Spain (LT: 1st, R: 3-3 vs Portugal, 1-0 v Iran) - Going under the radar a bit as they negotiate one of the tougher groups with little fuss. Won't fear Russia or Uruguay in the round of 16.

4. England (LT: 6th, R: 2-1 vs Tunisia, 6-1 v Panama) - Wow. A demolition of Panama had Frank Lampard declaring "I think we can go all the way, I genuinely do" and he wasn't the only one.

5. Portugal (LT: 3rd, R: 3-3 vs Spain, 1-0 v Morocco) - You're tempted to think the heavy reliance on Cristiano Ronaldo - who has scored all four of Portugal's goals - is unsustainable. But they proved at Euro 2016 it can be.

6. Germany (LT: 5th, R: 0-1 vs Mexico, 2-1 v Sweden) - So close to being out of the tournament already, the Germans could also argue they might be top of their group with a much healthier goal difference if they'd taken their chances better. Still a major threat and a major concern because of their frailties in defence.

7. France (LT: 8th, R: 2-1 vs Australia, 1-0 v Peru) - Like Spain, haven't generated the headlines of the some of the other contenders but in a long tournament that's not a bad thing. Hopefully ready to explode in attack against Denmark.

8. Mexico (LT: 7th, R: 1-0 vs Germany, 2-1 v South Korea) Didn't play with the same willing abandon against South Korea, perhaps because they had something to lose after that German upset. The only team at the Cup that has won both matches but still not qualified. Could still go out on goal difference if they lose to Sweden and Germany defeats South Korea.


Luka Modric has had it on a string this tournament.
Luka Modric has had it on a string this tournament.

9. Switzerland (LT: 12th, R: 1-1 vs Brazil, 2-1 v Serbia) - In a favourable position in Group E knowing a draw against Costa Rica will get them through. Would like to avoid Germany in the round of 16 but it's not a match-up they can manipulate.

10. Croatia (LT: 17th, R: 2-0 vs Nigeria, 3-0 v Argentina) - Tenth may seem low for the only team in the Cup to maintain two clean sheets, but we need a little more convincing. Awaits the Socceroos in the round of 16 if they progress - and who wouldn't have signed up for that in Australia two weeks ago?

11. Russia (LT: 19th, R: 5-0 vs Saudi Arabia, 3-1 v Egypt) - Out-running and out-scoring its opponents spurred on by raucous home crowds, the Russians can prove their more than round of 16 roadkill with a strong showing against the also-unbeaten Uruguayans.

12. Uruguay (LT: 11th, R: 1-0 vs Egypt, 1-0 v Saudi Arabia) - It's still not quite clicking for the South Americans and their results look underwhelming in comparison to Russia's. Won't be favoured against Spain or Portugal in the next phase.

13. Colombia (LT: 16th, R: 1-2 vs Japan, 3-0 v Poland) - Promoted James Rodriguez to the starting lineup and reaped the benefits against Poland. Ranked third in their group behind Japan and Senegal but can progress with a win against the Africans and then may present as a huge danger for England.

14. Denmark (LT: 10th, R: 1-0 vs Peru, 1-1 v Australia) - Lucky to be ranked this high but not the only team to look bad against Australia and only need a draw against France to progress from a really tough group.

15. Senegal (LT: 23rd, R: 2-1 vs Poland, 2-2 v Japan) - Japan's late equaliser could prove costly for the Senegalese, who have become the second favourite team of many fans with their joyful approach to the game.


So you’re telling me we’re a chance?
So you’re telling me we’re a chance?

16. Serbia (LT: 14th, R: 1-0 vs Costa Rica, 1-2 v Switzerland) - After coughing up a lead against the Swiss, the Serbs have to defeat Brazil to get through. What a task.

17. Nigeria (LT: 30th, R: 0-2 vs Croatia, 2-0 v Iceland) - Bounced back from a tough opener against Croatia, which doesn't look as bad given what the Croatians did to Argentina. Draw against Messi and co and they're through.

18. Sweden (LT: 15th, R: 1-0 vs South Korea, 1-2 v Germany) - Should have had an early red card against the Germans which would have totally changed the game, but given they couldn't hold on for a draw against 10 men only have themselves to blame. Tough to see them going through now.

19. Iran (LT: 25th, R: 1-0 vs Morocco, 0-1 v Spain) - Their task is exactly what they would have expected before the tournament started: defeat Portugal and you'll get out of the group. Easier said than done.

20. Argentina (LT: 9th, R: 1-1 vs Iceland, 0-3 v Croatia) - Oof. No one has fallen further than the hapless Argentines, who are lucky to still have a huge say in whether they go through or not.

21. Japan (LT: 24th, R: 2-1 vs Colombia, 2-2 v Senegal) - Top of their group and only need a draw against Poland to progress. Given the Polish haven't won a point it seems simple enough, but it's also the world's 61st ranked team (Japan) against No. 8.

22. Australia (LT: 26th, R: 1-2 vs France, 1-1 v Denmark) - May regret not pushing harder for a winner against the Danes given Peru will be no pushover in the final group game and even a win in that match might not be enough.

23. Iceland (LT: 13th, R: 1-1 vs Argentina, 0-2 v Nigeria) - The fairytale of recent years came to a thudding halt against Nigeria. Iceland's best chance is if Croatia takes the foot of the gas.


South Korea's Son Heung-min is familiar with losing from his time at Tottenham.
South Korea's Son Heung-min is familiar with losing from his time at Tottenham.

24. Peru (LT: 20th, R: 0-1 vs Denmark, 0-1 v France)

25. Morocco (LT: 29th, R: 0-1 vs Iran, 0-1 v Portugal)

26. Costa Rica (LT: 21st, R: 0-1 vs Serbia, 0-2 v Brazil)

27. South Korea (LT: 28th, R: 0-1 vs Sweden, 1-2 v Mexico)

28. Poland (LT: 18th, R: 1-2 vs Senegal, 0-3 v Colombia)

29. Egypt (LT: 27th, R: 0-1 vs Uruguay, 1-3 v Russia)

30. Tunisia (LT: 22nd, R: 1-2 vs England, 2-5 v Belgium)

31. Saudi Arabia (LT: 32nd, R: 0-5 vs Russia, 0-1 v Uruguay)

32. Panama (LT: 31st, R: 0-3 vs Belgium, 1-6 v England)