Belfast Telegraph

How the World Cup groups stack up after the latest world rankings

By Adam McKendry

With just a week to go until the World Cup kicks off in Russia, the latest FIFA/Coca Cola World Rankings have been released to drum up some excitement.

While there haven't been any drastic changes among the competing nations, particularly when it comes to how they're predicted to finish, it's worth looking at them to see who is projected to progress from each group.

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(PA Graphic)

Only one group has seen two nations swap places in the seedings and that's in Group A, where hosts Russia are now the worst ranked side in the group, falling below Saudi Arabia.

The gap between England and Tunisia for second place in Group G has widened - from one place to nine - meaning Gareth Southgate's men will be heavy favourites to escape the group into the knockouts.

So, if we're to go solely by world ranking, the last-16 nations are projected to be: Uruguay, Egypt, Portugal, Spain, France, Peru, Argentina, Croatia, Brazil, Switzerland, Germany, Mexico, Belgium, England, Poland and Colombia.

Interestingly, we're also able to see which group has the lowest average of world ranking places, in this case Group E containing Brazil, Switzerland, Costa Rica and Serbia with an average of 16.25, suggesting it will be the best group to watch.

Group A of Uruguay, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Russia has by far the highest average (49), meaning it mightn't be a thriller.

France and Peru in Group D and Brazil and Switzerland in Group E are the closest ranked top two seeds, suggesting we could have an upset in either of those groups, while Uruguay's staggering 31-place advantage in Group A indicates they should have top spot secured.

In terms of sides outside the top two in each group aiming to cause an upset and make the last-16, Denmark in Group C look the most likely to overhaul Peru, while Iceland will fancy their chances at beating Croatia in Group D.

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Iceland will fancy their chances at making the last-16

Meanwhile, barring a major upset, Portugal and Spain should have their places in the knockouts rubber-stamped given third-ranked Iran are a mighty 27 places adrift of the Spaniards in Group B.

But, of course, this is sport. When did rankings ever really matter?

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