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Ranked! All 32 World Cup teams based on their group stage performance

The Russia 2018 group stage is over, but which sides have impressed, which are lucky to be in the last 16 and why do we have to go so far down to find Germany?

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1. Croatia

In three words: Pass, pass, score

The Group D winners didn’t even get out of second gear in beating Nigeria 2-0, took a wrecking ball to Argentina in a fiesty 3-0 win, then – even with the group won – beat Iceland to complete a perfect round. Luka Modric has been imperious. Now watch them lose to Denmark.

Next: vs Denmark (July 1)
 

2. Belgium

In three words: Sweet like chocolate

Top scorers in the group stage, besting powerhouses Panama and Tunisia before their second-string side beat England’s reserves 1-0. Eden Hazard and Romelu Lukaku have starred, but this team probably has even more to give in attack.

Next: vs Japan (July 2)

3. Uruguay

In three words: Getting ominously better

Struggled past Egypt and Saudi Arabia but achieved a maximum nine points by beating Russia 3-0. Three clean sheets shows their defensive solidity, while manager Oscar Tabarez seemed to find a better midfield balance against Russia. The strikers aren’t bad either.

Next: Portugal (June 30)

4. Spain

In three words: Slick but shaky

They've perhaps played the best football of the tournament, with Isco and Andres Iniesta weaving their passing magic. Yet considering the elite calibre of Sergio Ramos, Gerard Pique and David de Gea, Spain have looked curiously ropey in defence, conceding five goals.

5. Brazil

In three words: Coutinho over Neymar

Without ever hitting top gear, still earned seven points from nine and conceded just one goal as they eased to the top of Group E. Coutinho has been the match-winner in all three games having put in a crafty, early shout for Golden Ball honours. 

Next: vs Mexico (July 2)

6. England

In three words: It’s coming home?

Let’s ignore the Belgium game, as it was essentially a reserve team friendly. England’s first-choice XI played some superb stuff in the first two matches... albeit against two of the worst teams in the tournament. Basically, we’ll know a lot more after the Colombia game.

Next: vs Colombia (July 3)

7. Sweden

In three words: The last laughers

The ultimate overachievers. Saw off South Korea in a snoozefest, experienced heartbreak in losing 2-1 to Germany and then showed their big Swedish (meat)balls by bouncing back to trounce Mexico 3-0 and finish atop Group F. Where did Germany come again?

Next: vs Switzerland (July 3)

8. France

In three words: Great on paper…

Elite players? Tick. Solid results? Tick. Actual performances? Hmm. Despite seven points from nine, France still do not look the sum of their incredible parts. Antoine Griezmann, Paul Pogba and Ousmane Dembele need to step up their game (or perhaps that just applies to manager Didier Deschamps).

Next: vs Argentina (June 30)

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