*These rankings include all of the games played through 6/17 except the 0-0 Brazil vs Mexico draw.

Van Persie's diving header in the Netherlands 5-1 victory over Spain

Van Persie’s diving header in the Netherlands 5-1 victory over Spain

1. Netherlands- What is scary about the Netherlands is that Spain never deserved their penalty. It seemed that Arjen Robben was out for revenge after failing to convert a huge opportunity last time around against Spain. Their dismantling of Spain proves they are better than they were given credit for.

2. Germany- The “Group of Death” threatened to take out the tournament favorites if they struggled against Portugal but they proved why they are one tough out. Even with Pepe’s mistake, Germany were the much better team. Many of their best players are missing but the squad is so deep that they haven’t missed a beat.

3. France- The most important thing for France was to settle their nerves against a tricky Honduras side. Karim Benzema looked unstoppable which is great news going forward given that their primary concern was how well their striker would play. The game against Switzerland will prove if they are legitimate contenders.

4. Colombia- The most impressive of all the South American teams, Colombia laid the hurt on a surprisingly decent Greece team. Their striker situation does not look promising but the rest of the squad looks up for the challenge. James Rodriguez lived up to the hype and is a player to look out for.

5. Costa Rica- By no means are Costa Rica the 5th best team but they have the entire world buzzing after their beat-down of Uruguay. Joel Campbell was a dangerous player throughout the game and will be a handful for defenses. Their match with Italy will determine if they are as good as their last performance suggests.

6. Italy- Rodgson actually set up his team to neutralize Andrea Pirlo but it was completely ineffective. Time and space on the ball allowed him to pick apart the England defense. Italy looked more like the team that finished runners-up at Euro 2012 than the team that struggled at the World Cup in 2010.

7. Argentina- Bosnia had Argentina sweating by the end of the game but there was never any question that Argentina would make it out of the group. Seeing how poorly Iran and Nigeria played should give them hope that they will go into the knockout stages in form and well rested. Not the performance many expected but good enough.

8. Belgium- There was a lot of concern among Belgium fans as their team struggled for the first 70 minutes of the game before Marouane Fellaini saved the day. While some see Belgium’s performance as troubling, the positive sign is that they escaped a scrappy battle and found some momentum going into the next game.

9. Brazil- A completely unconvincing performance that had neutrals crying foul. Not only was Fred awarded the worst penalty call of matchday 1, Brazil’s goals were soft and came from poor goalkeeping. Oscar was magic and put the game away after some solid goalkeeping from Julio Cesar.

10. United States- Not to downplay the significance of the result but the United States are simply in the position they needed to be. John Anthony Brooks is not a great defender and put in a once in a lifetime performance and full credit to him. The United States did not look strong against Ghana for most of the game, they need more help.

11. Chile- The 3-1 win looks convincing on paper but the performance left people with more questions than answers. A fast start saw Chile dominate an inferior Australia, but the Socceroos never gave up and could have tied the game in the dying moments. They need more from Arturo Vidal if they look to make a run.

12. Mexico- Their 1-0 win over Cameroon is exactly what they needed if they hope to advance out of a tricky group. Cameroon looked really poor throughout the game and Mexico failed to capitalize. Missed chances and a badly out-of-form Javier Hernandez show that Mexico remain a vulnerable team.

13. Switzerland- For most of the game Switzerland offered no attack and Ecuador were content to sit back and watch them struggle. A heroic performance from Ricardo Rodriguez gave the Swiss three points that could have easily gone to Ecuador. Switzerland are a good team but lack some offensive firepower.

14. Ivory Coast- The Ivory Coast’s performance did not inspire a lot of confidence in people. Japan are a pretty decent team but the Ivory Coast has superior talent that did not show up for the game. Didier Drogba’s presence helped change the game but it does not appear that he can contribute much by himself.

15. Bosnia and Herzegovina- Argentina are a pick by many to win the tournament and Bosnia put up a great fight. There should be a lot of optimism given that Iran and Nigeria drew and both looked poor doing so. As long as Bosnia take care of business then they will be tough out in the knockout rounds.

16. England- It’s not all doom and gloom for the Three Lions, they fought hard but fell due to poor management skills. Watching Pirlo tear apart a Germany team two years ago should make him a priority. On the positive side, Daniel Sturridge looks like he can play as well for country as he has for club.

17. Spain- People forget that Spain lost their first game in 2010 and then solidified their team on their incredible run to the title. Iker Casillas’ nightmare won’t happen again. The positive side is that Chile did not look dominant and a victory over them will put Spain back in contention for a spot in the knockout round.

18. Ecuador- These guys are a lot better than people give them credit for. Switzerland may have an inflated ranking but they are still a solid team and Ecuador could have just as easily won that game. Unfortunately they will need a result against France now if they expect to make it out of the group.

19. Japan- Another victim of comeback heroics that put them at poor odds of advancing out of the group stage. A result against Colombia is not likely and Greece are not as bad as the scoreline demonstrates. Japan did play well though, it just seems that it won’t matter in the end.

20. Croatia- Everyone expected to lose against Brazil but Croatia did not deserve to lose that game. A draw would have been a fair result but some feel that Croatia were hard-done by the referee. It will be tough to bounce back from the loss but Croatia could very well be the best team in the group.

21. Ghana- Like Croatia, Ghana were probably the better team and did not deserve to lose the game. Unfortunately for them, it looks like it is all over. They still have to play Germany and Portugal and it looks like an impossible task since they will need results from both games. Another example of underachieving.

22. Russia- Pick any of the three winless teams in Group H and any of them could be headed out of the group. Russia were not great and were in major trouble after Igor Akinfeev’s howler. It might come down to who can get the best result against Belgium but the biggest priority will be getting a win against Algeria.

23. South Kora- No different from Russia except for the fact that they were gifted a goal. Algeria does not look like the pushovers that people expected and that could spell trouble for either Russia or South Korea if they can’t get the job done. Less than inspiring performance but a draw is not a bad result.

24. Cameroon- Cameroon looked bad against Mexico and offered nothing offensively. The loss means they need results against Croatia and Brazil, both of which look far superior. It’s tough seeing them win in the game against Bosnia but they do still maintain a slight outside chance of playing spoiler to either Brazil or Croatia.

25. Algeria- They gave Belgium a tougher game than expected but ultimately cracked under the pressure. They did look better than Russia or South Korea which means they might not be completely out of their depth. One win and a draw does not look like such a daunting task.

26. Greece- Greece are not actually in bad shape. A 3-0 loss did not reflect how Greece actually played but it still puts them in a difficult position. Japan and the Ivory Coast will not be easy to get points from but they are not impossible either. There were enough flashes of skill to remain optimistic.

27. Uruguay- This is the first team that is probably toast. Uruguay are a good team, much better than the one that didn’t show up against Costa Rica. Luis Suarez was gone and Edinson Cavani could have put the game away sooner. It is just tough to expect them to get all 6 points from Italy and England.

28. Portugal- Portugal probably weren’t going to win against Germany but the complete failure is what might kill them. Pepe and Fabio Coentrao are out while the United States and Ghana both proved to be strong competition. They just looked so bad that it’s hard to see them rebounding and advancing.

29. Australia- Another team that played above expectations but have no hope after the loss. Their next two games are against the two finalists from 2010, one that desperately needs three points and the other in sizzling form. Admirable effort but a seemingly lost cause.

30. Honduras- The 3-0 loss just proved the superior might of France but they were not awful. Maybe they can take inspiration from the rest of the CONCACAF and upset Switzerland and Ecuador. Expect them to be more likely to play the spoiler role than compete for a knockout spot.

31. Iran- One of the two worst teams on the first matchday, a painful affair to watch. They are ranked ahead of Nigeria because they looked like they wanted it a little more. It’s tough to count out a team that drew in their first game but Argentina and Bosnia are both much better teams.

32. Nigeria- Huge disappointment. Nigeria are a solid African team but it looked like they just didn’t care. They had just as good of a chance as Bosnia to make it out of the group but that looks over now. Iran probably could have won that game in the closing moments and Nigeria should feel lucky that they even have one point.

Best XI

Oscar was the best player on matchday 1

Oscar was the best player on matchday 1

GK: Tim Howard (USA)- Confident in goal and made enough saves to earn the United States an important three points. Nothing he could do about the Ayew goal but a solid performance overall.

RB: Serge Aurier (Ivory Coast)- Assisted on both goals and filled up the stats sheet on defense (6 interceptions, 3 tackles and 3 clearances). Not much more he could have done.

CB: Mats Hummels (Germany)- An absolute monster in the air and put the game away against Portugal. 5 aerial duels won and a rock in the center of defense.

CB: Oscar Duarte (Costa Rica)- Duart’s goal won the game for Costa Rica but his defense was just as important. 6 interceptions, 4 clearances and 2 tackles.

RB: Ricardo Rodriguez (Switzerland)- He also assisted on both goals while contributing 5 tackles and a 90% pass completion rate.

Mid: Oscar (Brazil)- The best performance out of any player on matchday 1. Set up one goal and put the game away with his third, also added an incredible 6 tackles and 4 dribbles.

Mid: Arjen Robben (Netherlands)- A near perfect performance from the Dutch midfielder as he scored 2 goals, created 2 chances and added 4 dribbles.

Mid: James Rodriguez (Colombia)- An offensive maestro with 6 shots, 3 dribbles, 4 earned fouls and a goal.

Mid: Daley Blind (Netherlands)- Assisted on 2 of 5 Netherlands goals but set up 4 chances and completed 88% of his passes.

Fwd: Alexis Sanchez (Chile)- 6 dribbles and 6 fouls won for the Chilean while contributing to both goals with one scored and another assisted.

Fwd: Thomas Mueller (Germany)- A hat-trick for the German on four shots. Also created 2 scoring opportunities.

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