Ranking the World Cup Teams: 32-29

Posted: 04/29/2014 by levcohen in Soccer

The World Cup is probably the best and most exciting sports competition on the planet (outside of the Olympics, which top the World Cup only because of the number of sports that take place at the same time) for a number of reasons. Firstly, it is a rare occurrence, happening just once every four years. That means that players, coaches, and fans are all even more hungry than they are, say, when it comes to competitions like the Champions League or NBA playoffs (which have been amazing. More on that when the first round ends) which happen every single year. And hungry players, fans, and coaches mean more intense games, which is great. Secondly, soccer is the sport in most of the world. A world soccer competition is obviously going to be immensely important and entertaining, and that is even more true when it is the only major world soccer competition. So all the world’s best countries can compete against each other in their favorite sport in just one competition, and just every four years. No wonder everyone loves the World Cup, and no matter it’s so exciting and intense. Finally, the fact that countrymen are united gives this an Olympics-like feel. In fact, the period in the year or so before the World Cup, during the qualifying period and when the teams start getting whittled down, is when I and many soccer fans really start getting excited. It feels real now, and it’s coming up in about a month and a half. I’m going to make at least eight posts at some time or another previewing each of the countries, from worst to best. Let’s start at #32.

#32 Australia: I kind of feel bad for Australia. They always seem to turn into whipping boys in the World Cup, having made it in a largely bad qualifying group. Actually, though, that’s not really true. Last World Cup, the Aussies got crushed by Germany 4-0, but tied against a Ghana team that should have gone to the semifinal and beat Serbia. So they are definitely going in the right direction. Unfortunately, they are also in a group with Spain, the Netherlands, and Chile. That could easily be the toughest group there is, as I could easily see one of last year’s two finalists going out in the group stage. I’m bullish on Chile. Anyway, Australia is lead by New York Red Bulls midfielder Tim Cahill, who scored the Aussies first ever World Cup goal in 2006. Unfortunately, Australia is pretty shallow behind Cahill and Crystal Palace’s Mile Jedinak, and it showed. It took them until the 83rd minute of their final game of qualification to qualify for the World Cup, as a header gave them the win over Iraq. Recently, they’ve been thrashed by France and Brazil 6-0 each, which could be something we’ll see against Spain, Netherlands, or Chile. One point would be pretty good for this team in a very tough group. They work hard and have spirit, but they don’t have the talent.

#31 Iran: The star of this team is probably the coach, Carlos Queiroz, the coach of Portugal in the last World Cup and formal assistant to Alex Ferguson at Manchester United. Unfortunately, his Iran team isn’t as talented as that Portugal team or those Man United teams. Not even close. This team is going to have a lot of trouble scoring goals. While they did beat South Korea twice in qualification, they lost to Lebanon, Jordan and Uzbekistan in qualification, all by a score of 1-0. And if they can’t score against those countries, what hope do they have against teams like Argentina, Bosnia, and even Nigeria? Not much. A few goals and/or a win would be a great result for an Iran team who should just be happy to be there.

#30 Cameroon: I was actually surprised to have to rank Cameroon this low. They actually have some household names, like Samuel Eto’o of Chelsea, Aurelein Chedjou of Galtasaray and Alex Song of Barcelona. They definitely have more star power than some of the teams I’m ranking higher. I do have to factor these teams’ groups into this, though, because I’m trying to predict what’s going to happen in the actual competition. And Cameroon is stuck in a group with host Brazil, Croatia, and Mexico. This team is older than most, and I think they’re declining. This might be the last time this current core goes to a World Cup. The qualification and pre-World Cup process has been a tale of two competitions. In WC qualification, they were tremendous, going 5-2-1, although none of the wins came against great opposition (the best was probably over Libya). In friendlies against non-African teams, Cameroon has really struggled. Their 5-1 loss to Portugal came after a tie against Ukraine and loss against Tanzania, all in the past year. I’m just not sold.

#29 Ecuador: Ecuador is the type of team that can pull off a huge upset (say, over France. You heard it here first) and still fail to advance from their group stage. Since the last World Cup, they have beaten Uruguay, Chile, and Columbia at home, and tied Argentina. That’s super impressive. Unfortunately, the World Cup isn’t at home, and Ecuador have been atrocious on the road, not even winning a road game in qualifying. In fact, this team has had two non-home wins since 2011: over Portugal, which is extremely impressive, and over Australia 4-3, which is less impressive, especially since they were down 3-0 at halftime. Their home advantage likely is because of their high altitude and fast pace, and they won’t have that at the World Cup. The defense is also pretty bad, and Manchester United’s Antonio Valencia is really the only player who stands out. I think Ecuador and Honduras are both poor, which is why Group E is just so bad. I think Honduras has the edge over Ecuador, though.

Next: 28-25

  1. 5toolstar says:

    Where is the US and how did they avoid the bottom four?

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