Ranked! All 32 World Cup teams based on their group stage performance
In three words: End product required
Oh, Peru. They should have beaten Denmark (but lost 1-0) and taken something from their game against France (but lost 1-0). Out after two games despite playing some lovely, slick football. At least their raucous fans got to enjoy a 2-0 win over Australia.
In three words: All very messy
Stumbled through with all the composure Diego Maradona has showed in the stands. A piece of Leo Messi brilliance and a late Marcos Rojo goal saw them pip Nigeria, but a 3-0 loss to Croatia is telling. Javier Mascherano is 34 years old but looks twice that.
Next: vs France (June 30)
In three words: So-So Eagles
Simply didn’t turn up against Croatia but Ahmed Musa morphed into Brazilian Ronaldo for 45 minutes against Iceland. Could have beaten Argentina if Odion Ighalo had packed his shooting boots for Russia, but Nigeria’s defence just couldn’t see the game out.
In three words: So very near
Two slices of luck in the form of a 95th-minute own goal by Aziz Bouhaddouz vs Morocco and a dubious VAR penalty against Portugal. But Iran earned it with their industry, pushing Spain and the Portuguese so close. A Mehdi Taremi shot away from qualifying.
In three words: Probably quite angry
Will feel justifiably aggrieved that Aleksandar Mitrovic didn’t get a penalty against Switzerland. Being caught pressing forward at the end of that game cost Serbia dear, with Xherdan Shaqiri’s late strike meaning they had to beat Brazil to stay in. They couldn’t.
22. South Korea
In three words: Thank you x
Not great in that they deservedly lost to Sweden and Mexico in their first two fixtures. Yet rousing themselves for that stunning 2-0 victory over Germany, even as they knew the result in the other game was going against them, is one of the World Cup’s enduring memories.
In three words: The ultimate frustration
How did they finish with just one point? Easily the best side to finish this World Cup without a win, Morocco contrived to lose to Iran and Portugal despite at least equalling both sides, then led twice against Spain before drawing. Dynamic in attack but not enough end product.
In three words: [silence... silence...] CLAP
Just one point but (did you know this? Because it was was widely unreported) the smallest nation every to appear at a World Cup can feel proud. They froze out Messi, and played to their strengths in losing narrowly to Nigeria and Croatia. Might melt in Qatar, mind you.