It’s almost here. It’s so close.
We are just days away from the big World Cup 2018 kick-off, commencing Thursday as hosts Russia play Saudi Arabia, and excitement levels are through the roof.
Predictions and mock brackets are rife on social media, official World Cup songs are being released and compared to old classics and the sadder side to this process is in full force, with unfortunate players sustaining injuries that will prevent them from fulfilling boyhood dreams.
When all of these things are happening, you know you’re a hair’s breadth away from the biggest sporting event on the planet beginning.
We’re continuing our build-up to the tournament with a World Cup power ranking, ordering each of the 32 nations by relative strength and likelihood of lifting the trophy. A lot has happened since our March edition, a fact evidenced by some of the wild swings in the rankings. We also have a new No. 1!
32. Panama (-2)
It’s fitting that Panama have used this preparation period to play Northern Ireland, as they’re exactly the type of team they’ll be looking to emulate at the World Cup. A stubborn defensive outlook is expected, with coach Hernan Dario Gomez’s decision to switch from 4-4-2 to 5-4-1 geared toward frustrating opponents in Russia.
It’ll be the most wonderful storyline if they can ruffle some feathers—this being their first-ever World Cup finals—but we’ll have to see it to believe it.
31. South Korea (-4)
It’s difficult to feel anything but concern for South Korea. Their squad has been ravaged by injuries, with at least three players named and then replaced, and their performances during the warm-ups haven’t been good.
30. Australia (+2)
Australia are shaping up for this World Cup better than many expected, but it’s important not to get carried away by their pre-tournament form. Wins over the Czech Republic and Hungary are good, but there’s a big gap in quality between those opponents and the ones they’ll face in Group B.
29. Saudi Arabia (Stay)
Watching Saudi Arabia fly forward on the counter-attack against Germany in their 2-1 defeat was fun and might concern a few Group A teams, but the finishing on hand was dire. authentic nfl jerseys cheap They might thrill a few, but a lack of quality will probably stop them getting results.
28. Japan (-3)
Japan appear to be in complete disarray. After firing manager Vahid Halilhodzic in March, Akira Nishino has been parachuted in to pick up the pieces. He’s lost his first two games in this important warm-up period, with his side failing to score a goal in either.nfl jerseys for cheap
27. Tunisia (+4)
A combination of good warm-up performances and other teams being in free fall have resulted in Tunisia moving up to 27th. They’re no pushovers but can’t be expected to qualify from Belgium and England’s group.cheap nfl jerseys
26. Iran (Stay)
Iran attempted to play four friendlies during this pre-tournament period but two were cancelled against Greece and Kosovo. They’re a much stronger outfit than they were in 2014, yet they’re far less prepared.nfl jersey cheap