2018 FIFA World Cup Power Rankings: Movers and shakers after round of international friendlies
Spain’s victory over Argentina and draw with Germany has seen them rise up the rankings. (Reuters)
With all 32 World Cup teams involved in this week’s round of international friendly matches we got a chance to re-assess each side’s chances when it comes to the big dance.
Some powerful performances by big guns Spain and Brazil have confirmed their favouritism, while it’s not been great news for minnows Iceland.
Keep an eye on our Power Rankings on the ABC’s World Cup page in the weeks to come — we will be updating the rankings after every set of warm-up matches, as well as during the tournament itself.
Click through to read about each team’s chances, as we explore the ins and outs of their squads, form and playing style.
Spain assert their credentials
Spain’s 6-1 thumping of Argentina in Madrid saw them rise two spots up to second on the Power Rankings.
The return of front man Diego Costa resulted in a goal while Isco’s hat-trick was a highlight for a Spain team which has depth all over the park.
World champions in 2010, La Furia Roja struggled in Brazil and were bundled out of the group stages with two losses and a victory over Australia to their name.
But Spain’s big three, Real Madrid, Barcelona and Atletico Madrid, have dominated the Champions League in recent years and it seems the national team is starting to harness that power.
A high-quality 1-1 draw with Germany in Dusseldorf on Saturday was one of the picks of the international round.
The biggest movers
A 10-man Peru saw off a Croatia side featuring Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic, which will be worrying for Socceroos fans.
The biggest knock on Socceroos group opponents Peru was whether they would be able to get the job done away from home.
Peru came through Conmebol qualifying in fifth, earning just two wins and two draws from their 10 away fixtures, while they drew 0-0 in New Zealand in the inter-continental play-offs.
But the Peruvians well and truly put those doubts to bed during the international round, downing a star-studded Croatia and resolute Iceland in two performances in the United States.
Peru played 16 minutes with 10-men against a Croatia side featuring Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic to win 2-0, while they strongly beat Iceland 3-1 — the European side which edged out Croatia, Ukraine and Turkey in qualifying.
Tunisia also leapt two spaces up the Power Rankings following a pair of 1-0 wins over fellow World Cup qualifiers Iran and Costa Rica — Asia’s best and North America’s second best teams respectively.
The North Africans have qualified for the World Cup four times in its history, the last coming in 2006, and their only win was over Mexico in 1978.
But with a game against lowly-ranked Panama, they have a chance to build on this while seeking points against a strong England team and a well-fancied Belgium.
Socceroos need some improvement
Australia’s defensive frailties were exposed by Norway in their first game under coach Bert Van Marwijk. (AP: Cornelius Poppe)
A mixed bag of performances in the Socceroos first tests under new coach Bert Van Marwijk saw them drop one place in the Power Rankings.
A 4-1 loss to Norway in Oslo exposed the Socceroos’ defensive frailties, as they struggled to deal with target man Bjorn Johnsen and winger Mohamed Elyounoussi.
Australia rode their luck in a 0-0 draw against a Colombia side featuring James Rodriguez and Radamel Falcao, with the South Americans hitting the post twice, and seeing a penalty saved.
First choice defender Trent Sainsbury is returning from injury and should add some strength to the team on his return, while Massimo Luongo and Tom Rogic appear to have forced their way into the starting team.
But the Australians will need to show plenty of improvement if they are to make a mark in Russia in a group featuring France, Denmark and Peru.
Van Marwijk will be grateful to spend more time on the training pitch with his side and will go into camp in Turkey for two weeks ahead of the World Cup.