France and Portugal fall in the World Cup 2022 Power Rankings on the eve of the tournament
The tournament in Qatar begins on Sunday, so who appears to be best prepared to lift the trophy and who appears undercooked?
Given its timing and location, the 2022 World Cup promises to be unlike any other.
Teams from all over the world have been busy finalizing their preparations for the tournament, with some appearing to be in better shape than others ahead of the big kickoff on Sunday.
But who are the favorites to win, who will be the surprise packages, and who are the most likely to be runners-up?
Dramacoolbd has been ranking all of the contenders throughout the tournament’s build-up, and here’s how they’re shaping up ahead of the first game…
32 Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia is competing in their sixth World Cup since first qualifying in 1994, but they must improve on their debut performance of reaching the last 16.
Despite finishing first in their final qualifying group with a strong defensive record, they struggled for goals throughout, scoring only 12 times in 10 matches.
They will almost certainly need a forward to catch fire, as they will face Lionel Messi and Robert Lewandowski in the group stages.
Australia advanced to the World Cup finals for the fifth time in a row after beating Peru on penalties in an intercontinental play-off, though they face an uphill battle to match their best result, when they reached the last 16 in 2006.
In the group stages, they will face France and Denmark, and given that the Socceroos won only four of ten games in their qualifying group, it is clear that they are not as strong as they once were.
As a result, little is expected of them in Qatar.
Tunisia had kept nine consecutive clean sheets before Brazil scored five in September, and their defense will need to step up once more if they are to make an impact in Qatar.
When France and Denmark meet in the groups, they will hope to replicate what Brazil did to the North African team, with Australia filling in the numbers in Group D.
Tunisia has never advanced past the group stage in five previous World Cup appearances, and that trend is unlikely to change in 2022.
Qatar were the Pot One team that no other team wanted to draw, but ignoring them would be a mistake.
Finishing in the top two against the Netherlands, Senegal, and Ecuador will be difficult, but the 2019 Asian Cup champions appear to be able to raise their game when tournaments arrive.
Host nations have been written off in the past, only to produce unexpected results, so don’t dismiss Qatar too quickly.
Costa Rica 28
Costa Rica will be hoping to replicate their 2014 heroics in Brazil, where they reached the quarter-finals after defeating New Zealand in an intercontinental play-off.
They won a group that included Italy, England, and Uruguay back then, and they’ll need to do the same this time around, as they’ll be up against Spain, Germany, and an improving Japan.
A last-second win over Uzbekistan in their final pre-tournament friendly did not bode well for their chances, but they have enough quality to pose questions to superior sides if they perform well.
Aside from the failure of European champions Italy to qualify for the tournament, Canada was the story of World Cup qualification, topping the CONCACAF table to reach their first global tournament in 36 years.
As co-hosts of the 2026 World Cup, that is the competition in which they believe they can make a significant impact, but they are not visiting Qatar as tourists.
Alphonso Davies is a player for whom Belgium, Croatia, and Morocco must prepare thoroughly, and a first-ever World Cup victory should not be out of reach if the Bayern Munich star is firing on all cylinders.
Iran has only missed two World Cups since 1998, and they will be back this time after finishing first in their group in the third round of Asian qualifying.
They won eight of their ten games and allowed only four goals in the process of securing a place in Qatar.
They followed that up by defeating Uruguay and drawing with Senegal in pre-tournament friendlies in September, but their tournament could be overshadowed by political unrest at home, which threatens to bleed into the country’s national team.
Cameroon followed up their third-place finish at the Africa Cup of Nations with a thrilling last-gasp victory over Algeria in their World Cup play-off to earn a place in Qatar.
Despite the fact that they are not the star-studded team of previous generations, manager Rigobert Song appeared to have discovered a winning formula in the early months of 2022.
Recent losses to Uzbekistan and South Korea, however, have cast doubt on their ability to compete with Brazil, Switzerland, and Serbia for a last-16 spot.
Japan has qualified for the World Cup for the seventh time in a row, finishing second in their final group in Asian qualifying.
Their reward, if you can call it that, was to be placed in Group E alongside Germany, Spain, and Costa Rica, but they have the attacking ability to surprise.
Their recent victory over the United States demonstrated this point perfectly, and while their draw is difficult, do not write them off just yet.
Ghana recovered from an embarrassing group-stage exit at the Africa Cup of Nations to defeat great rival Nigeria in their World Cup play-off.
Given the heartbreaking manner in which the Black Stars were knocked out of the 2010 quarter-finals, they can now prepare to face another team that they would love to defeat in Uruguay.
They have added Inaki Williams and Tariq Lamptey to their ranks since qualifying, and another run to the knockout stages is not out of the question.
Morocco may not be every fan’s first choice for World Cup viewing, but they have the potential to be a surprise package in Qatar.
Only twice in their final six qualifying matches did they fail to score three goals, and they were unfortunate to lose to Egypt in the Africa Cup of Nations quarterfinals.
They also have arguably the most exciting young player in African football in Achraf Hakimi, and a group that includes Belgium, Croatia, and Canada is not as daunting as it could have been, even if Amine Harit’s injury on the eve of the tournament weakens them slightly.
Ecuador will be able to play Qatar in the tournament opener on Sunday after surviving Chile’s claims that they should be kicked out for using an ineligible player throughout qualifying.
Ecuador, the youngest team in CONMEBOL qualifying, is regarded as a South American side on the rise, and while their best years are undoubtedly ahead of them, this tournament provides an opportunity for some of their players to make their mark on a global stage.
Injuries to Senegal’s key player, Sadio Mane, help their cause even more, and a place in the knockout rounds is not out of the question.
20 South Korea
Without a doubt the biggest star in Asian football, it would have been a huge shame if Son Heung-eye min’s socket injury in early November had kept him out of the tournament.
It remains to be seen how much the problem hinders him, especially given the size of the mask he is expected to wear in Qatar, but South Korea’s chances of progressing from the group rest on the shoulders of the Tottenham forward.
If he is physically capable of carrying the load, reaching the knockout stages is a realistic goal.
Mexico plays Argentina more than any other team outside of CONCACAF, and things rarely go well for El Tri, so finishing second in their group is likely the best they can hope for.
To do so, they will most likely have to stop Robert Lewandowski and Poland while also finding a way to score themselves after a goal-less qualification campaign.
Their chances of doing so were harmed by winger Jesus Corona’s pre-tournament injury, and Raul Jimenez hasn’t played since the end of August, leaving Gerard Martino’s team with issues up front to sort out.
18 United States
With the USMNT returning to the tournament for the first time since 2014 and a new generation of talented young players, many hope that Qatar 2022 will serve as a springboard for the team to truly challenge on home soil in four years.
Despite winning two titles in the last 18 months, there are some concerns about coach Gregg Berhalter’s tactics and the form of star Christian Pulisic as the team prepares to kick off in Qatar.
So, while the United States is not in the most intimidating group, the possibility of an underwhelming return to the global stage exists.
Wales qualified for their first World Cup since 1958 with a victory over Ukraine in June, and they are hoping to advance to the knockout stages, as they did at the previous two European Championships.
Gareth Bale has been at his best on the international stage in recent years, and he will be eager to put on a show in what could be his final major tournament appearance.
A grudge match against England in the group stages has added to the excitement, even if this current team is not on par with the semi-finalists from the 2016 Euros.
Serbia stunned European football by edging out Portugal in the final seconds of UEFA qualifying to secure an automatic spot in Qatar, and they will be confident of producing more surprises over the next month.
In terms of the group stages, beating Brazil would be a greater accomplishment than even defeating Portugal, but they have the attacking weapons to at least test the Selecao in Aleksandar Mitrovic, Dusan Vlahovic, Dusan Tadic, and Sergej Milinkovic-Savic.
In reality, they will be aiming to finish second to Switzerland and Cameroon in what appears to be a fairly open group below the top-seeded Selecao.
Senegal’s chances were dealt a major blow when Sadio Mane went down injured in Bayern Munich’s penultimate pre-World Cup game. Senegal was expected to be the leading African team at the tournament after winning the Cup of Nations at the start of 2022.
There were some glimmer of hope that he might still be able to play in Qatar, but those hopes were dashed on Thursday when he was officially ruled out of the tournament.
They still have some top-tier players, including Chelsea duo Kalidou Kouliably and Edouard Mendy, but Mane’s absence will be a cloud over them throughout the competition.
Switzerland, a perennial qualifier for major tournaments, has done it again, this time edging Italy to an automatic place in Qatar after topping their UEFA group.
They followed that up with Nations League victories over Spain and Portugal, which will serve them well when they face Brazil in Qatar.
The Swiss’ experience in reaching the knockout stages of major tournaments will make them the favourites to join Brazil in the last 16, but with Serbia and Cameroon also in their group, progression will be difficult.
Robert Lewandowski has arguably been the best player in the world for the past three years, so it would have felt wrong not to give him the opportunity to prove himself on the game’s biggest stage.
Since joining Barcelona in the summer, he has shown little sign of slowing down, and all eyes will be on the striker as Poland looks to put two consecutive group-stage exits at major tournaments behind them.
Look out for Piotr Zielinkski, who has been on fire for Napoli this season and will be expected to be Lewandowski’s primary provider.
Uruguay could finish top or bottom of Group H, which appears to be the deepest pool of the eight.
They will undoubtedly be tested by a Ghana side out for vengeance following Luis Suarez’s antics in 2010, while Portugal and South Korea both have iconic forwards leading the way.
However, if Suarez and Darwin Nunez can gel up front while in-form midfielders Fede Valverde and Rodrigo Bentancur pull the strings behind them, the two-time champions could pose a threat.
Cristiano Ronaldo’s explosive interview with Piers Morgan on the eve of the tournament could have two outcomes for Portugal.
Either their talisman rides the wave of criticism and leads his country to the only trophy missing from his collection, or they implode in a blaze of infighting fueled by Ronaldo’s ego.
Regardless, we’ll be popping some popcorn whenever Portugal takes the field in Qatar.
Croatia, who were beaten finalists in 2018, will have much lower expectations in Qatar, though they will still expect to be competitive and possibly win at least one knockout game.
Luka Modric continues to excel as he prepares for his fourth World Cup, and the Real Madrid midfielder will lead a squad that is gradually transitioning away from the ‘Golden Generation’ that brought them so much success in the 2010s.
They qualified for the Nations League finals after four consecutive wins, and they will need to maintain that form in Qatar, especially with Germany or Spain likely to await them if they make it to the last 16.
Belgium is in a transitional period as they head to Qatar, with their ‘Golden Generation’ either having moved on or nearing the end of their careers.
Kevin De Bruyne remains the world’s best creative midfielder, but he will need Romelu Lukaku to get back fit and firing before the group stages are over to ensure he has a reliable finisher to assist him.
A potential last-16 match against either Spain or Germany also appears daunting, suggesting that Roberto Martinez’s team may be eliminated early.
Denmark are widely regarded as ‘dark horses’ heading into the tournament, and they certainly have what it takes to repeat their Euro 2020 semi-final run.
Christian Eriksen has returned to form, and manager Kasper Hjulmand has assembled a team that is greater than the sum of its parts.
The fact that they have beaten Group C opponents France twice in recent months will boost their confidence, and the Danes are a balanced, well-organized side that few will want to face in the latter stages.
The Netherlands will enter the World Cup as one of the competition’s form teams, having gone unbeaten in 15 matches since Louis van Gaal took over after Euro 2020.
Their main strength is a defense so solid that Matthijs de Ligt cannot break through it, but they also have attacking firepower, as evidenced by their 4-1 away win over Belgium in June.
They should advance from Group A in Qatar and could be a dark horse to advance to the knockout stages.
Gareth Southgate will lead the most talented Three Lions squad in over a decade in Qatar, but whether he is the right manager to get the most out of them is being questioned.
Indeed, a Nations League campaign in which they went winless in six group matches has raised serious doubts about this team’s ability to improve on their runner-up finish at Euro 2020.
At major tournaments, form can go out the window, and England still has the players to go all the way, but more underachievement on the biggest stage now looks a lot more likely than it did at the start of 2022.
The defending champions have had a difficult 2022, winning only one of their six Nations League matches and narrowly avoiding relegation.
Worryingly, they were defeated twice by Denmark, whom they will face again in the group stages in Qatar.
With injuries to Paul Pogba, N’Golo Kante, Presnel Kimpembe, and Christopher Nkunku, as well as doubts about Karim Benzema’s fitness and Kylian Mbappe’s attitude, Didier Deschamps’ highly touted team is in trouble.
Spain was the unlucky top seed, drawn alongside Germany from Pot Two, setting up a titanic first-round clash between two of the tournament’s pre-tournament favourites.
La Roja should still advance, but facing Hansi Flick’s side increases the likelihood of them finishing as runners-up, which could lead to a more difficult last-16 tie.
They did win their Nations League group in the run-up to the World Cup, and while there are doubts about whether they have the attack to capitalize on their creative talents in midfield, Luis Enrique’s side is in good shape heading into Qatar 2022.
Germany may have won only two of their eight matches in 2022, but Hansi Flick is assembling a team to be feared in the coming years.
Jamal Musiala is developing into one of Europe’s best young players, and they have plenty of experience in the form of Thomas Muller, Manuel Neuer, Ilkay Gundogan, and Joshua Kimmich.
After being drawn in the same World Cup group as Spain, the only thing holding them back may be a difficult draw in the knockout rounds if they do not finish first.
Lionel Messi and co. will be pleased with how the April group-stage draw turned out, as they will face Mexico, Poland, and Saudi Arabia.
Messi is back in form for club and country, and Scaloni has instilled in his squad a sense of togetherness and spirit that has the potential to carry them all the way.
Can the Copa America champions now take on the rest of the world? We wouldn’t rule it out.
Neymar, Vinicius Junior, Raphinha, Antony, Richarlison, Gabriel Jesus, Rodrygo, and Gabriel Martinelli are among the players involved. Add in Copa Libertadores top scorer Pedro, and that is the group of attackers Tite will have to choose from in Qatar.
The Selecao’s forward line is the main reason they are favorites to win the tournament in 2022, but they also have plenty of experienced heads in both defense and midfield, as well as the Premier League’s two best goalkeepers, Alisson and Ederson, vying for a starting spot.
Brazil has previously been a World Cup favorite but failed to win, but it’s difficult to dismiss them as the eventual winner right now.