Ranking the 16 Teams Left in Terms of Who I Want to Win

It’s here! The Knockout Stage has arrived, bringing with it everything Americans love about sports!

You like elimination games? Got those too!

You hate ties? So do we! How about some penalty kicks if overtime isn’t enough?

Now is the perfect time to jump on board the World Cup if you aren’t already on the bandwagon. And if you’re not sure which team you should root for, come up with a totally random points system. That’s what I did!

Here’s the system I created to find out who I should cheer for:

  • Star Power: I ranked every team handed out the most points to the brightest stars (16 to 1 pts).
  • Fan Hunger: The more World Cup success the team has, the less hungry their fans are (16 to 1 pts).
  • Kit Points: The better looking your set of kits it, the more you score (5 to 0 pts).
  • Bonus Points: a handful of teams deserved bonus points for random reasons (Up to 10 pts).

From Last to First, here are the teams I am rooting for in the 2018 World Cup

16 – Spain: 8 Points

Star Power Points: 10

Fan Hunger Points: 1

Kit Points: 2

Bonus Points: -5

The negative bonus points are for winning it all eight years ago. You’ve had your win, Spaniards, let someone else hoist the cup!

15 – Sweden: 10 points

Star Power Points: 3

Fan Hunger Points: 7

Kit Points: 2

Bonus Points: -2

Do you know who my favorite player is on the Swedish team? Me neither. Negative bonus points for anonymity!

14 – Croatia: 11 points

Star Power Points: 3

Fan Hunger Points: 8

Kit Points: 0

Bonus Points: 0

Their best finish was third place 20 years ago, so they slightly edge out Sweden having never made it to the title game before. Can we talk about those checkerboard kits? I have nothing nice to say about them, so let’s move on.

13 – France: 13 points

Star Power Points: 7

Fan Hunger Points: 3

Kit Points: 3

Bonus Points: 0

I may have given them too many star power points, but I can’t get over how great some of their names are. Kylian Mbappe? Olivier Giroud? Henri Coup De Velo? Fantastic. (Okay, I may have made one of those up, but you have to admit, “Henry Bicycle Kick” would be a great soccer name.)

12 – Russia: 15 points

Star Power Points: 3

Fan Hunger Points: 11

Kit Points: 1

Bonus Points: +5 AND -5

I gave Russia 5 bonus points for being the host nation, but then I took those bonus points away for interfering in our national election. Seems like solid math, right?

11 – Switzerland: 18 points

Star Power Points: 3

Fan Hunger Points: 15

Kit Points: 2

Bonus Points: -3

They’ve only been to the round of 8 once, and that was 64 years ago. I did have to subtract three points for their annoying performance with the swiss army knife in Volkswagen’s “America, Root For Us” commercial we all can’t seem to escape.

10 – Brazil: 20 points

Star Power Points: 14

Fan Hunger Points: 2

Kit Points: 5

Bonus Points: -1

So much World Cup success (they’ve won it five times) that they barely broke the Top 10, but watching Neymar advance deep into the tournament in those gorgeous kits would be such a treat. (The negative bonus point is for that 7-1 shellacking from Germany four years ago. They should still be embarrassed by that.)

9 – Japan: 22 points

Star Power Points: 3

Fan Hunger Points: 16

Kit Points: 3

Bonus Points: 0

Every other team in the Knockout Stage has at least made it to the round of 8 once. This Japanese team can make history with one win over Belgium, which would be amazing to watch. (Especially if you’re holding a betting ticket with their name on it. Their 150-1 odds to start are the longest of any team remaining.)

8 – Uruguay: 23 points

Star Power Points: 13

Fan Hunger Points: 6

Kit Points: 2

Bonus Points: +2

Two bonus points because their star player is known for biting people. Anytime you can heighten the drama of a sporting match by introducing biting, it has to be acknowledged and rewarded. Sorry, I don’t make the rules, I just…well, actually yes, I do make the rules.

7 – Colombia: 24 points

Star Power Points: 9

Fan Hunger Points: 12

Kit Points: 3

Bonus Points: 0

James Rodriguez was the breakout star 4 years ago when he scored 6 goals in the World Cup. Can he take his team to the semi-finals, where they have never been before? The path there looks a lot easier than everyone thought when the Groups were drawn.

6 – Denmark: 25 points

Star Power Points: 6

Fan Hunger Points: 13

Kit Points: 3

Bonus Points: 3

I wanted to award Denmark 30 bonus points for their amazing goalkeeper, Schmeichel, but my editor convinced me that 3 was sufficient. If you say so, editor.

5 – Belgium: 26 points

Star Power Points: 12

Fan Hunger Points: 10

Kit Points: 3

Bonus Points: +1

The Red Devils have somehow never made it to the Finals of a World Cup, and their team this year is stacked with speed, power, and experience. Also, there are too many teams in red in the World Cup. Less red and yellow, more purple and orange, please.

4 – Argentina: 28 points

Star Power Points: 16

Fan Hunger Points: 4

Kit Points: 4

Bonus Points: +4

Despite already giving them 16 points for Star Power, I had to tack on an additional 4 bonus points for Messi. Who knows if this will be his last World Cup or not, but how can you NOT be rooting to watch him perform on the biggest stage two weeks from now? [Update: Maybe the only way you cannot root for them is if they’re not playing. Adios, Argentina. We’ll miss you.)

3 – England: 29 points

Star Power Points: 11

Fan Hunger Points: 5

Kit Points: 4

Bonus Points: +9

I came into the project only knowing a couple of facts about the World Cup, and one of them was that England always under achieves and goes home early. While they are one of only six teams left who have won it all, that was 52 years ago. Nine bonus points is a lot, but I just really like this Harry Kane chap. If that’s wrong, I don’t want to be right.  

2 – Mexico: 34 points

Star Power Points: 8

Fan Hunger Points: 14

Kit Points: 3

Bonus Points: +9

They could have the toughest road to the Championship game should things play out to form. Their road onward will likely go through Brazil, Belgium, and France or Argentina. Yikes. They get major bonus points from me for their exciting style of play and the way many in the U.S. have gotten behind them.   

1 – Portugal: 38 points

Star Power Points: 15

Fan Hunger Points: 9

Kit Points: 4

Bonus Points: +10

That’s right, Portugal is the team I am pulling for above all others for these next two weeks. Solid kits, a fanbase that has never seen them in a World Cup Championship game, and one of the biggest stars on the planet. Why the 10 bonus points? For genetics, of course. My mother’s grandfather was born in the Madeira Islands of Portugal, so it’s in my blood.

Well, there you have it. Those are my picks. Who are you rooting for and why over these next two weeks?

“Five days shalt thou labour, as the Bible says. The seventh day is the Lord thy God’s. The sixth day is for football.”

Anthony Burgess

Bryan Allain has spent 41 years of his life ignoring soccer in favor of the Red Sox and golf, the REAL beautiful game. (His words not ours). This is the account of his 30-day, all in, deep dive on the premier showcase of the most popular sport on earth, the 2018 World Cup.