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TheScore.ie's World Cup last 16 power rankings

Half the teams have gone home but who has impressed the most out of the remaining sides going into the knockout stages?

Brazil Soccer WCup Germany The Germany team pose for a group photo. Source: Matthias Schrader

The knockout stages begin this evening so five of our writers have ranked the remaining 16 teams. We’re not going on likelihood of winning tournament by draw or next opponents but purely judged on performances to date, squad depth, fitness, ability to deal with pressure and conditions, and potential for improvement.

Mikey Stafford

1. Germany — Best squad, most in-form striker and have displayed great guts to force a draw against a rampant Ghana.
2. Brazil — Solid defence and hope that Fernandinho will start in midfield are a boost to a team driven on by home support. Then there is Neymar.
3. The Netherlands — Superb in attack and really well managed, only fear is for the depth of their squad.
4. Argentina — Lionel Messi looks like a man possessed. Best player in the world might yet emulate Maradona in 1986 and win it single-handedly.
5. France — Look a proper team for the first time in 12 years. Goals are not a problem but they have not been sternly tested yet.
6. Colombia — Second top-scorers after the Netherlands, negotiated their group with ease and displayed depth by making eight changes against Japan.
7. Chile — Question marks over their defence cannot be conclusively answered following defeat to the Dutch but there is no doubting potency of attack.
8. Belgium — Only four goals scored in one of the weaker looking groups, but only one conceded too.
9. Costa Rica — Topped a group including three World Champions playing cohesive, attacking football. Their supreme fitness is a factor.
10. Mexico — Another team with lots of spirit, but also an excellent midfield. Along with Belgium the most miserly defence, and they had to play Brazil.
11. Switzerland – Proved their talent with three-goal display over Honduras but also displayed worrying lack of backbone in 5-2 loss to France.
12. Uruguay — No Suarez, no chance.
13. Nigeria — Recovered from 0-0 draw with Iran to come through a tricky group, finally showing their potential in slugfest with Argentina.
14. United States — Gutsy if limited team. No contenders could be so reliant on a the return to fitness of Jozy Altidore.
15. Algeria — Lots of fun to watch but fear is Russia and South Korea were as bad as they looked.
16. Greece — Deserve some credit for beating the Ivory Coast, but the Africans deserve more criticism for being beaten by a very limited side.

Brazil Soccer WCup Argentina Lionel Messi and Angel Di Maria had been two of Argentina's main men so far. Source: AP/Press Association Images

Adrian Russell

1.  Argentina — This is their time. Messi’s playing like he’s wearing claret and blue and they’re feeling at home.
2. France — Looking cohesive, exciting going forward and their manager’s in control. They know how to get it done.
3. Germany —  Clicking through the gears nicely and have some of the best players in the tournament. Also… you can never write them off.
4. Holland — Arguably the best team of the last two weeks but we’ve been here before with the Dutch. Looking good though.
5. Brazil — Home advantage, topped the pool and they have an in-form Neymar. Susceptible to a shock I reckon.
6 Colombia — At last! A Colombian team we can get behind. Lovely.
7. Chile — Dunphy’s pick to win the whole kaboodle and why not?
8. Mexico — Have been great so far with a strong spine and may yet put a run together.
9. Belgium — Would have expected to feature higher before the tournament but have yet to ignite. Not yet the sum of their impressive parts.
10 United States — Not particularly sophisticated but heart-on-the-sleeve spirit from the USMNT. As Klinsi might say: come on, you guys!
11. Uruguay — Don’t be surprised if they shock everyone this weekend; Cavani’s not a bad replacement for the other fella.
12. Costa Rica — Incredible performance to top that group but it’ll be the end of the road this weekend.
13. Switzerland – Have talent but have been up and down so far. Really poor against France.
14 Nigeria — Likely to be dumped out by Les Bleus but can be satisfied with showing in Brazil.
15. Algeria — Making lots of friends with the way they’re playing this tournament… and their anthem is the sleeper hit of the summer.
16. Greece — Are you guys still here?

Brazil Soccer WCup Colombia James Rodriguez and his Colombia team have really lit up these finals. Source: Shuji Kajiyama

Steve O’Rourke

1. Argentina – They’ve the best player in the world playing himself into form. What else do they need?
2. The Netherlands – Not the team of cloggers (GEDDIT) we expected them to be. Instead they’re playing some of the best football in the tournament.
3. Colombia – They might not be great at pronouncing their own names but they’re exciting going forward.
4. Brazil – Having 13 men on the field helps them enormously but they’ve also got Fred
5. Germany – Nobody seems able to put Müller in the corner.
6. France – I’m only putting them here so I don’t look silly but I can’t help but feel we’ve yet to see the worst of them.
7. Chile – I like saying their name and if they’re good enough for Dunphy to say they’ll win it, they’re good enough to get to the quarter-finals.
8. Switzerland – The real hipster favourites. It’s a pity they’re playing Argentina as I’d love to see more of Shaqiri and Drmic.
9. Belgium – They’ve won all their games but haven’t generally impressed. I thought it was the Germans who were supposed to be efficient?
10. Mexico – All that lack of sex and beef will eventually get to them.
11. Costa Rica – Got the chance to stand on the same field as Pirlo. That’s winning in my book.
12. USA – The group of death turned out to be greatly exaggerated
13. Uruguay – Like Liverpool, without Suarez they’re nothing
14. Algeria – The best African team by a long way, delighted they knocked the dull Russians out too.
15. Nigeria – Very, very lucky to get this far. Poor Bosnia.
16. Greece – To this World Cup what a nun/priest is to your table at a wedding.

Soccer - FIFA World Cup 2014 - Round of Sixteen - Netherlands v Mexico - Netherlands Training Session - Estadio Jose Bastos Padilha Can Van Gaal bring them all the way before heading for Manchester? Source: Mike Egerton

Pat McCarry

1. Holland – Time to get dangerously excited. Precocious attacking talent, dodgy defence, star players with histories of injury thwangs. What could go wrong?
2. Brazil – Looking ropey but getting the job done and finally finding their best X (Fred is the I but even he has a goal).
3. Argentina – Aguero looks a goner but Messi and Di Maria are clicking into gear. Lavezzi looked lively and Romero is a good goalkeeper.
4. Colombia – No Falcao but Jackson Martinez and James Rodriguez taking up the charge.
5. Germany – Should do Algeria and have too much for France. After that it is semi-final time and Germans shine when its do-or-die time.
6. Chile — Working their cotton socks off as players like Sanchez and Vidal live up to the hype
7. France — Confidence has returned to Deschamps’ side and Benzema is in scoring form. Defence looks decent too.
8. Mexico – Handy goalkeeper, Herrera looking deadly in midfield and four or five genuine scoring threats. Abstaining from tournament sex too so hopefully it is all worth it.
9. Uruguay – Playing on the fumes of righteous indignation. Forlan to pop up with a goal/assist.
10. Belgium — Charming no-one with their unimaginative antics.
11. Nigeria – Musa cancelled out Messi the other day and they have a decent defence
12. Switzerland – 6th in the world goddammit! Shaqiri has awoken.
13. Greece - 10 years on from 2004, with their very own SAS (Samaras and Samaris) doing the goalscoring beeswax.
14. United States – Clint Dempsey’s fury and Jermaine Jones’ clattering of footballs may not be enough.
15. Costa Rica – No-one believes in them but they keep on keepin’ on.
16. Algeria – Nice set of lads but their time is up on Monday evening.

Brazil Soccer WCup France Karim Benzema is hitting top form for France heading into the knockout stages. Source: AP/Press Association Images


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Paul Fennessy

1. France – The only team to be convincing in their opening two group games, they underperformed against Ecuador but were through at that stage anyway. Deschamps is a very good coach with several talented players at his disposal. What’s not to like?
2. Germany – Were surprisingly vulnerable against Ghana and I’m not sure Joachim Löw knows his best XI or his strongest formation, but at their fluent best, no team in the world can match their attacking prowess.
3. The Netherlands – Any team with forwards as potent as Robben and Van Persie and a coach as intelligent as Van Gaal will always have a decent chance. They may not have the most talented squad at the tournament, but few teams have such a committed group of players.
4. Argentina – Two words: Lionel Messi.
5. Brazil – The Brazilians have been unimpressive for much of the group stages but deserve their status as genuine contenders, even if they have some ordinary players — home advantage and Neymar’s brilliance will give them a significant chance.
6. Chile – Anyone who beats Spain so consummately has to be taken seriously — the only doubt is how they’ll fare if they ever fall behind in a game.
7. Colombia – Have some great players such as James Rodríguez and progressed from the group stages with relative ease, but their lack of big-game experience may hinder them ultimately.
8. Belgium – Another side who have enough talented players not to be ruled out entirely. That said though, they emerged from a relatively weak group without ever seeming to get out of second gear.
9. Mexico – Impressively came through their group unbeaten, and only finished second to Brazil on goal difference. While players such as Andres Guardado and Hector Herrera are of a high calibre, others are problematic — Giovanni dos Santos is a Tottenham reject, while as well as Rafael Marquez has played, you’d expect a world-class striker to capitalise on his lack of pace and declining physical prowess.
10. Costa Rica – A functional, tactically intelligent side who, in Joel Campbell, possess a potential future star. However, the fact that they have already exceeded expectations may perversely work against them – no one thought they’d emerge from their group so at this stage, any positive result is a bonus.
11. USA – An energetic side with considerable World Cup experience to boot in the form of Michael Bradley, Clint Dempsey and DeMarcus Beasley among others. Like Costa Rica, the US weren’t expected to get this far, and their weaknesses in attack mean they’ll likely struggle to go much further.
12. Nigeria – Edged Bosnia out in qualification, yet illustrated their defensive deficiencies against Argentina — facing France in the last 16 should prove a challenge too steep.
13. Uruguay – Already a limited enough side and Suarez’s lengthy suspension has all but ended their hopes of emulating their 2010 semi-final berth.
14. Switzerland – In Xherdan Shaqiri, they possess one of the best young talents in the competition, but their backline looked extremely poor against France — it’s likely that Argentina and in particular Messi will have a field day against them.
15. Greece – Will regard a quarter-final spot as eminently feasible given that they take on fellow overachievers Costa Rica, yet they lack the sufficient quality to get much further than that.
16. Algeria – Similarly to other teams mentioned, anything from hereon in is a bonus, They’re punching above their weight to be considered among the world’s top 16 teams.

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