The Pecking Order
The pecking order is our latest invention, or rather the latest thing we’ve pinched from Eurosport. The list starts with all 32 sides ordered based on their official FIFA ranking. After each round we’ll update the pecking order to represent good form on the pitch and also good form off it. This is the place for all your injury news, scandals or just for plain results. In brackets is their official ranking.
1 (1) – Brazil – Scrappy, but comfortable against a surprisingly robust North Korean side. Still plenty of room for improvement. Look destined for a 2nd round clash with Spain.
2 (6) – Germany – Easily the most impressive of the “big” nations in the opening round. If you’re looking for ruthless efficiency in the dictionary, you’re likely to find the word Germany straight after the phrase.
3 (4) – Netherlands – Similar to Brazil, unspectacular (if not downright boring), but still showed glimpses of their potential. Looked the goods with a little width from the impressive Elia.
4 (7) – Argentina – Poor, but move up thanks to the failing of others. Messi was all class and improving their finishing could see some routs coming up.
5 (3) – Portugal – Offered nothing going forward and were content with the draw in the 2nd half. Improvement needed.
6 (5) – Italy – Held by an impressive Paraguay, but were the better side and moved the ball around effectively – they always start slowly.
7 (2) – Spain – Showing that “tippy tappy” football is not necessarily the way to win… Were toothless up front despite the mercurial midfield and sublime skill of their side. If the Swiss win a game, then Spain could finish 2nd in the group and face the Brazilians – messing up everyone’s World Cup form guide.
8 (18) – Chile – While the opposition was only Honduras, the Chileans showed why they finished 2nd in qualification. Sanchez on the right proved Real Madrid’s interest is certainly not wasted. Darkhorse.
9 (16) – Uruguay – Boring and defensive against France, but attacking and explosive against South Africa. Have almost sealed qualification from a difficult group.
10 (8) – England – Were poor, but not terrible against the US. Expectations are so high they’ve been just about deserted by fans. Looked frail in defence and a little weak in attack, but don’t hit the panic button just yet.
11 (24) – Switzerland – Showed the same kind of defensive skill that saw them concede no goals in the group stage in 2006. They also had technical skill aplenty in the forward half. Injuries to key players may derail their campaign (and stop them from a higher place in the pecking order)
12 (14) – USA – Showed tactical astuteness against the English and have a sneaky chance to top the group, which would take them a long way to Quarter final action. Look to be the real deal.
13 (17) – Mexico – Offered plenty in the 1st half against South Africans, but didn’t give the best display of water tight defence. Dos Santos was brilliant.
14 (9) – France – One word: Abysmal. Actually 2: Atrocious.
15 (27) – Cote d’Ivoire – Drogba returning is an enormous boost. They showed promise in the 2nd half, but still face an uphill battle to qualify.
16 (32) – Ghana – They’ll be smelling qualification after a crucial win over Serbia. A win on Saturday over the Aussies will just about do it. Not particularly fluid however.
17 (47) South Korea – Typically Asian, one of PTS’s smokies were impressive in their first outing. Probably because of the Greek deficiencies though…
18 (45) Japan – Will be almost impossible to break down for mid tier sides. Not impressive, but a big win for their chances.
19 (31) – Paraguay – Were lucky against the Italians, but move a long way up the pecking order with their unexpected point.
20 (83) South Africa – Showed glimpses in the opener, but flopped miserably last night. Probably the end of their campaign.
21 (21) – Nigeria – Were better than expected despite losing to Argentina.
22 (34) Slovakia – Robbed of 3 points and that could see them miss out on qualification. Were the much better side for the majority of a dour affair.
23 (105) North Korea – Who would have thought? But grabbed a goal and some respect against Brazil. Could snatch a draw against a much more fancied side.
24 (36) Denmark – Weren’t outclassed against Holland, but need to lift in their next 2 games. Showed little ambition.
25 (78) New Zealand – Outplayed, but showed bounds of tenacity. Described by some as the biggest moment in sport in New Zealand… ahh probably not, but still an historic point.
26 (25) – Slovenia – Boring
27 (30) – Algeria – Boring
28 (15) – Serbia – Despite being talked up as outside chances due to their resolute defence, showed absolutely nothing at the back. Disastrous for the Europeans.
29 (19) – Cameroon – Confusing tactics and listless performance. Eto’o and Assou Ekotto were 2 of their worst and need to lift if they are to have any chance of qualification.
30 (20) – Australia – Bereft of creativity, sub-par defending and negative tactics/mindset see the Aussie slide down the rankings. Need to rekindle their ’06 spirt, and fast! It’s not all lost, however, they were always expecting a loss to the Germans.
31 (38) Honduras – Proved they really are making up the numbers. Too much time and space for every Chilean and they were dominated from start to finish.
32 (13) – Greece – Our biggest sliders of the opening round. Were woeful against the South Koreans and could be in for more spankings in the coming weeks. Book your ticket home now!
Before it all started:
A few interesting points – on paper, forget Group D or Group G as the group of death, it’s Group C featuring England that have the smallest range between their sides. England are top in 8th and Algeria are bottom in 22nd. Just to clarify, Group F is the worst ranked group, with 3 teams featuring in the bottom 10 sides… Group E also features 2 sides in the bottom 6. The struggle in Group A will be titanic between Uruguay and Mexico, who are the closest teams on the list that are in the same group. They’re separated by the solitary place! (South Africa will cause a few upsets in that group though…)
Just to confirm: On paper, the teams below Ghana should be watching from the stands. They should be replaced by Croatia, Russia, Egypt, Norway, Ukraine, Israel, Romania and Turkey. Out of that bunch, I would have particularly loved to see Israel and the Romanians – but maybe next time…