World Cup 2010 – Rankings: Germany top as Spain slump

We assess the World Cup contenders from one to 32 after the sixth day of action in South Africa.

1 (2) – Germany – The most impressive team in the opening round of matches, climb to the top of the tree.

2 (3) – Brazil – Brazil were installed as favourites by the bookmakers after European champions Spain lost their opening Group H match to Switzerland in Durban but we have our doubts.

3 (4) – Argentina – Midfielder Juan Sebastian Veron will miss Argentina’s match against South Korea at Johannesburg’s Soccer City on Thursday with a minor leg muscle injury.

4 (5) – Netherlands – Holland have won their three World Cup games against Asian sides, scoring 10 goals in the process. A good omen for the clash with Japan.

5 (1) – Spain – Switzerland pulled off the biggest shock of this World Cup when they beat Spain 1-0 in Group H. The defeat ended a run of 12 straight victories for the Spanish who drop four slots.

6 (6) – USA – The United States need to avoid their usual habit of dropping points against the lesser fancied teams when they play Slovenia but a body of work on South Africa soil including their Confederations Cup showing and opening point sees them in a lofty position.

7 (7) – England – Fabio Capello has confirmed midfielder Gareth Barry will start Friday’s match against Algeria in Cape Town.

8 (8) – Ghana – Ghana’s influential midfielder Sulley Muntari is fit again to compete in the World Cup.

9 (9) – Italy – Goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon could miss the rest of the World Cup with a back problem after doctors said his recovery time was impossible to estimate following further tests.

10 (13) – Chile – Chile ended their 48-year wait for a World Cup victory by beating Honduras 1-0 in the Group H opener and impressed with their attacking display.

11 (15) – Uruguay – A brace from Diego Forlan helped them past South Africa 3-0 and a point against Mexico on Tuesday will put them into the second round. If they top the group they should avoid Argentina in round two.

12 (10) – Ivory Coast – A goalless draw against Portugal has given Ivory Coast the confidence it needs to tackle top ranked Brazil on Sunday, according to talismanic captain and striker Didier Drogba who is likely to be in the starting line-up.

13 (11) – Mexico – Mexico coach Javier Aguirre will probably keep faith with his starting front three of Guillermo Franco, Carlos Vela and Giovani Dos Santos for Thursday’s meeting with France.

14 (12) – Portugal – Coach Carlos Queiroz insists their goalless draw with Ivory Coast was no embarrassment but said his team could no longer be cautious if they were to reach the World Cup’s second round.

15 (14) – France – Reserve goalkeeper Cedric Carrasso has been ruled out of the World Cup with a thigh injury.

16 (16) – South Korea – Veron’s absence will mean Javier Mascherano will be alone in the middle of the park. Ji-Sung Park and co will look to exploit the space.

17 (22) – Switzerland coach Ottmar Hitzfeld praised his players for carrying out his game plan to perfection in their shock victory over World Cup favourites Spain in Group H.

18 (17) – Slovenia – Robert Koren, match-winner against Algeria, says ‘bring on the Yanks’. Kind of: “Our minds are already on the US. There is no time to celebrate too much.”

19 (18) – Paraguay – The South Americans have never gone beyond the second round in the finals before but progressing to the next phase is their minimum target. “We want to go at least to the quarter-finals because in Paraguayan history it’s never been done,” said Roque Santa Cruz.

20 (20) – Japan – Japan have faced a European side in the World Cup finals on five previous occasions, winning only once and failing to score in three of those matches. The Dutch are next.

21 (21) – Serbia – Germany have won both of their previous matches against Serbia and Serbia & Montenegro (1-0, 2-1).

22 (23) – Slovakia – With all the teams in Group F level on one point after Italy and Paraguay also drew 1-1, the advantage is back with the world champions and South Americans.

23 (24) – Denmark – Denmark have never lost to an African side at the World Cup with a win and two draws in previous meetings but the Danish attack continues to be an area of grave concern with Jon Dahl Tomasson (thigh) and Mikkel Beckmann (toe) training alone ahead of the match with Cameroon.

24 (25) – Nigeria – Nigeria coach Lars Lagerback hinted at changes to his line-up for Thursday’s Group B clash with Greece but preferred to keep his opponents and Super Eagles fans guessing until kick-off.

25 (26) – New Zealand – New Zealand are clinging on to their dream of reaching the next round after snatching a first ever World Cup finals point but with world champions Italy up next they still have a mountain to climb.

26 (19) – South Africa – On the brink of unwelcome history. Need to beat France to avoid becoming the first host nation to be eliminated in the opening round and their goal difference is now an added disadvantage.

27 (27) – Cameroon – Cameroon’s Group E defeat to Japan was like throwing the joker away in a good hand of cards, leaving the African side needing to win its next two matches, goalkeeper Hamidou Souleymanou said.

28 (29) – Algeria – Algeria have never kept a clean sheet in seven World Cup matches. Can they shut out England on Friday?

29 (30) – North Korea – North Korea’s official KCNA news agency said coach Kim Jong-hun’s side had matched Brazil all the way in the 2-1 defeat at Ellis Park in Johannesburg.

30 (28) – Honduras – Honduras are still looking for their first World Cup victory after the 1-0 defeat to Chile. This is only their second appearance at the finals, their first ending without a win in 1982.

31 (31) – Australia – Ghana and Australia have met six times so far, each time in friendlies: the Socceroos lead the head-to-head by four wins to one so they are not quite bottom.

32 (32) – Greece – Greece’s players believe they must secure their first ever World Cup finals victory in Thursday’s match against Nigeria or start packing their bags for home. No kidding.