World Cup Power Rankings - Three
Just a quick note: these are rankings for most likely to win the tournament, not necessarily the best teams so far. So Italy and England, who certainly haven't looked very good, are still in the top 10, as they'll be in perfectly fine shape if they manage to beat entirely beatable opponents in their next match.
The biggest story of the tournament now, other than France's hilariously epic meltdown, is the strength of the South American teams. All five are likely to progress, and they take up five of the top eight spots in the rankings. However, this may not be the story it seems to be: every single one of their results should come as no surprise. Of their 10 matches, the only ones which can be described as any kind of surprise would be Uruguay's tie with France and Paraguay's draw with Italy. They've simply been effective and consistent, and consistency can take you a long way in a short tournament like the World Cup.
Now we get into the final stage, with two matches at once. A quick guide to the final day for each group:
Group A - Mexico and Uruguay are virtually qualified, and play each other, with a draw guaranteeing both sides are in. However, second in the group will almost certainly be matched up against Argentina, and Mexico, currently in that spot, could try to win it and avoid Argentina. If either team loses, this gives the winner of France-South Africa the chance to sneak in.
Group B - Although every team still has the chance to go through or be eliminated, Argentina is in the driver's seat and should win the group easily. South Korea will probably be second, so long as they don't lose badly to Nigeria.
Group C - Slovenia are in the lead with 4 points, but are still precariously placed, with their next match against the English. There are dozens of different complications, but the simplest thing to know is that England, the USA, and Slovenia all are guaranteed progression with a win, while Algeria may need a tiebreaker.
Group D - The real "Group of Death." Ghana plays against Germany in the most exciting matchup of the last group games, knowing that a draw or win sees them through. Germany are definitely in with a win, but a draw makes their position precarious, and a loss sends them out. With Ghana the best hope for Africa left in the tournament, this could get exciting. Serbia and Australia match up in the other game, with both needing a win.
Group E - Japan and Denmark have an exciting playoff in this group. Denmark needs to win or they're out, as Japan holds the tiebreakers in case of a draw. Should be fun.
Group F - Another exciting group with every team having a chance, and every team except Slovakia guaranteed progression with a win (and they'd just be very likely.) Can the Kiwis do it?
Group G - The so-called "Group of Death" has only been a group of boredom. Portugal-Brazil was a tempting matchup at the start of the tournament, but seems likely now to be a dull draw, which suits both teams.
Group H - Chile-Spain, on the other hand, could be the most exciting match of the tournament, as both sides are attractive, attacking teams with something to play for. Spain is guaranteed qualification with a win, while Chile will avoid Brazil in the second round if they get any points. Switzerland will try to spoil the Latin party against Honduras.