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The 2022 World Cup in Qatar rolls on as the Group Stage is now officially over, we’ve said goodbye to 16 international soccer teams, and only the final 16 remain. On Saturday, we start the Round of 16 with the USMNT vs. the Netherlands in the competition’s first (official) knockout match. Before that game goes off, though, it’s time to look at the updated World Cup power rankings past and reshuffle them after a thrilling and dramatic Group Stage round-robin.

How the last rankings looked

Updated World Cup power rankings for Round of 16
(L-R) USMNT celebrates, Brazil after a defeat | John Todd/ISI Photos/Getty Images; ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP via Getty Images

At the beginning of the week, when the final round of the Group Stage started, the 2022 World Cup power rankings looked different than they do today. In the last round of rankings, my board looked like this:

  1. France
  2. Spain
  3. Brazil
  4. Portugal
  5. England
  6. Argentina
  7. Germany
  8. Croatia
  9. Netherlands
  10. United States

Since ordering the top teams as such, a lot has happened in the World Cup. The good news is nine of the 10 teams in the World Cup power rankings above handled their business and moved on to the next round. The bad news is No. 7 Germany wasn’t one of those teams, and we also lost several other interesting and talented squads like Uruguay, Denmark, Belgium, and Serbia.

This means we no longer have Manuel Neuer, Luis Suarez, Christian Eriksen, Kevin De Bruyne, or Aleksandar Mitrovic in our soccer lives (for the next few weeks). Still, we did hang on to Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Kylian Mbappe, and Neymar (kind of) in the chaos of the Group Stage.

Moving forward, these teams are only guaranteed one more game, as each match is now win or go home. The first round of knockout contests is now set and looks like this:

  • Saturday 12/3: USA vs. Netherlands, Argentina vs. Australia
  • Sunday 12/4: France vs. Poland, England vs. Senegal
  • Monday 12/5: Japan vs. Croatia, Brazil vs. South Korea
  • Tuesday 12/6: Morocco vs. Spain, Portugal vs. Switzerland

So, with those as the matches, and ultimate glory as the goal, let’s look at the updated 2022 World Cup power rankings.

Tim Crean’s 2022 updated World Cup power rankings for the Round of 16


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Once again, and without further ado, here again, are my definitive power rankings (that will change every day henceforth) for the 2022 World Cup thus far.

10. United States

The good ‘ol U.S of A stays at No. 10 after defeating Iran 1-0 to take home the three points and move on to the next round in nail-biting fashion. The USMNT isn’t exactly taking the “Beautiful Game” to new heights, but if we ‘Mericans know one thing, it’s that defense wins championships. 

America is the only team in the tournament not to have allowed a goal in the run of play during the Group Stage. This defense — led by old man Tim Ream, captain Tyler Adams, and the goalkeeper, who just plays soccer to stay in shape for basketball, Matt Turner — is the best unit in the tournament right now.

If the USMNT can again find a way to use brute force to score a goal again (or, gosh forbid, even two) and defend their butts off afterward, there is no reason the side can’t make the final eight and jump into the upper echelon of the next World Cup power rankings. 

9. Netherlands 

Just like the USMNT, who Oranje will face on Saturday, the Netherlands stay in their power rankings spot after a solid — if unspectacular — group stage. The team did what it needed to do to get out of its decidedly weak group, and that’s all you can do at this point. 

PSV Eindhoven forward Cody Gakpo has been one of the breakout stars of the tournament, joining Spain’s Alvaro Morata as the only two players to score in each of their team’s three Group Stage matches. 

The Netherlands and USMNT feel like similar squads this year, which should make for an excellent match to kick off the Knockout Stage. And I don’t feel bad about keeping them in their previous slots, as whoever wins will get a well-deserved bump up the rankings. 

8. Japan

Auf Wiedersehen Germany and Kon’nichiwa Japan! The team that ultimately sent the Germans home jumps into the top 10 of the updated World Cup power rankings and (almost) into Die Mannschaft’s spot. 

Down 1-0 to two of the greatest national teams in the world, Spain and Germany, Japan’s quick-strike ability in the second half has been absolutely incredible. The Blue Samurai scored back-to-back back-breaker in both its matches against these power to move on to the Round of 16, which means Croatia better watch out if it goes up a goal. 

All that said, Japan won the Spain game with just 17.7% possession, which is the lowest percentage a winning World Cup team has ever had in a victory. That is not sustainable, so it seems that Japan’s luck will run out at some point. That’s why they are only a No. 8 right now, despite their impressive resume. 

7. Croatia 

Croatia still has the same problem with its aging core that it had coming into the 2022 World Cup, but the reports of Luka Modric and company’s demise was (at least somewhat) exaggerated. 

The team that scratched and clawed its way to the 2018 World Cup Final is back in action and taking no prisoners again. Just ask the Belgian side that Croatia knocked out in the last match of Group F

There isn’t a whole lot to say about Croatia right now, as they are again very good but still not great and four years older than the last time they played about the same way in this tournament. That said, fans can no longer sleep in eth checkerboard-clad Europeans, and they have to be viewed as a real contender in this coming round and beyond. 

6. Brazil

The biggest faller of the final 16 is Brazil, who came into this tournament as the favorite. The Neymar injury has taken a serious toll on this team. Without him, the team had one goal in its last two matches that it barely won vs. Serbia and lost vs. Cameroon. 

Sure, the Cameroon game was relatively meaningless, and the team started its B squad (that would be almost any other country’s A squad). But still, one goal in two matches is anemic.

As of Friday night, Neymar’s return for the South Korea game is still up in the air, as Brazil is labeling it a “possibility.” The real possibility is that without Neymar at 100% — which he may not get back to this tournament – Brazil looks like an utterly beatable team. 

5. England

In my last World Cup power rankings, I wrote of England, “all Gareth Southgate has to do to freshen the team up is put Phil Foden in for the criminally overrated Mason Mount.” Well, Southgate replaced Mount and Bukayo Saka with Foden and Jordan Henderson, and the result was a 3-0 win over Wales. 

Putting England at No. 5 is tough because, with the right lineup (that includes Phil Foden), it’s easy to see England as a top two or three team in the world. However, if Southgate goes back to his old habits and starts Mason Mount, it’s easy to see England going out in the next two rounds. 

When the Three Lions are right, though, they truly are one of the best teams in the world, so let’s put them here for now and see which way Southgate wants to send them. 

4. Portugal

Power rankings can be unfair because it’s often easy to take a loss by one team and draw a lot of conclusions from it while completely ignoring a loss by another. That later issue, though, is precisely what I’m doing with Portugal, but they’re my World Cup power rankings, so tough luck. 

Yes, the Portuguese took a late 2-1 loss to South Korea to let the Fighting Son Heung-min’s eke out Uruguay to go through to the next round. However, Cristiano Ronaldo came out after an hour, and William Carvalho, Bernardo Silva, Ruben Dias, Joao Felix, and Bruno Fernandes didn’t even start. 

Portugal is still my dark horse dangerous team of the tournament, so with all the other shakeups in these updated World Cup power rankings, this squad holds pat at No. 4, just like last week. 

3. Spain

On the plus side, Alvaro Morata scored again for the Spaniards in the final Group Stage match, and the team dominated the game with 82% possession against Japan. On the negative side, the team lost 2-0 to Japan. 

Heading into the Knockout Rounds, Spain is still one of the overall most impressive teams in the tournament, and the loss didn’t really change that. 

Spain’s biggest issue — the inexperience of some of their best players like Pedri, Gavi, Dani Olmo, and Ferran Torres — is still there, but these players are still playing extremely well. Once Spain puts its best 11 back on the pitch, they should again look like a possible World Cup champion in the coming rounds. 

2. Argentina

Argentina still has one of the two best players in the world in Lionel Messi, which keeps them near the top of these updated World Cup power rankings. What pushes them up two spots in this new list is that other players stepped up as well vs. Mexico. 

With goals from budding young stars Alexis Mac Allister and Julian Alvarez, Messi should have hope that he will finally have some help as the pressure ramps up and the competition gets better.

Additionally, the competition doesn’t get all that much better that much quicker for Argentina in their favorable bracket draw. They should roll over Australia in their first knockout match, and then they will be favored in their second-round tilt vs. the Netherlands or the USMNT. Even their quarterfinal matchup vs. Japan, Croatia, South Korea, or Brazil should be a little on the easier (or at least more familiar) side.

1. France

Last but not least, the No. 1 team in these rankings stays the same, as France still looks like the defending champions they are. The biggest difference between this squad and the 2018 winners is that Kylian Mbappe is four years older and might be the best player in the world right now.

Sure, there are still questions about the young defense and the thin midfield. But it truly seems like the front line of Mbappe, Olivier Giroud, Antoine Griezmann, and Ousmane Dembele can outscore anyone in the 2022 tournament, and that makes them the favorites moving forward.