World Cup Power Rankings: Croatia rises after making unprecedented final appearance; France takes top spot

The World Cup final is set, and it's an all-European battle featuring France, one of the heavy favorites entering the tournament, and Croatia, a Cinderella team that is riding off of three consecutive games won on extra time or penalty kicks in the knockout stage. The day before the final in Moscow, a bronze medalist will be awarded in Saint Petersburg between the two losing teams in the semifinals, Belgium and England. As a result, there have been some changes in our fresh set of World Cup Power Rankings before this weekend's games. Let's get right to it:

Power Rankings before World Cup final

RK TEAM
CHG ANALYSIS
1.
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France +1The tournament favorite and riding high after beating Argentina, Uruguay and Belgium to get this far. France is determined to erase the memory of losing Euro 2016 at home. The team has showed what it is capable of when everyone is on the same page.
2.
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Croatia 
+2A shock finalist that took advantage of a weaker side of the bracket. It's concerning that this team can't seem to win a knockout stage match in regulation, but it's done enough to get through and make history, and it might have a real shot pulling off a shocking result.

Teams eliminated in semifinals

RK TEAM
CHG ANALYSIS
3.
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England--A sad end to the journey. It's going to be hard to get up for a third-place match but Gareth Southgate's men should be proud of what they accomplished. The future is bright.
4.
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Belgium
-3 In the end, the lack of experience on the biggest stage showed. The team looked lost and out of ideas late against France. Similarly to England, the future is bright and this team will likely be co-favorites at Euro 2020 along with France and England.

Teams eliminated in quarterfinals

RK TEAM
CHG ANALYSIS
5.
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Brazil -- Horror show. Just a nightmare opening half-hour and could never recover. Created so many chances and couldn't take them, and it came back to bite them. Brazil will be remembered from this cup because of Neymar's diving, and that's sad. 
6.
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Uruguay -- The Cavani injury really did this team in, but so did Fernando Muslera's blunder. The end of a golden era for Uruguay could be nearing with Luis Suarez, Edinson Cavani and Diego Godin possibly playing in their last World Cup. Just not enough creativity when it mattered most. 
7.
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Russia -- A memorable tournament, and Russia came within a couple penalty kicks of the semis. A moment they won't forget, but they'll regret the execution in the penalty kicks. Still, a fun run that builds confidence in the future.              
8.
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Sweden -- Outclassed by England but still a good tournament for the Swedes. Didn't need Zlatan Ibrahimovic and proved some doubters wrong. This team has some young pieces for the future and could threaten at Euro 2020.

Teams eliminated in round of 16

RK TEAM
CHG ANALYSIS
9.
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Colombia -- With James Rodriguez, I think this team beats England. But he sits out with a calf injury, and as a result, the Cafeteros head home. Heartbreaking for this team after two straight wins. Now you have to wonder what's next. Will Jose Peckerman continue?
10.
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Japan -- A heroic showing against Belgium and probably deserved more. The Jan Vertonghen goal to start the comeback was something else, something out of this world. The Japanese left it all out on the field and were a classy bunch that gave their fans some great memories. 
11.
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Argentina -- I don't quite understand how Jorge Sampaoli still has a job. Sure, there is a big buyout, but he's yet to do one thing right. This feels almost as awful as the group stage exit in 2002. A circus.
12.
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Mexico -- Didn't take care of Sweden in the group stage and got Brazil as a result. The squad hung tough for a bit, but it always felt like the South Americans would win. Time to welcome a new generation of players for the next World Cup, and possibly a new coach?
13.
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Denmark -- Unlucky against Croatia at times but didn't deserve to win. Only had a chance because of Kasper Schmeichel's penalty save. The Danes have a bright future with Christian Eriksen leading the way.  
14.
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Switzerland -- Not good. Picked a bad time to have an off night in attack. Oh, what could have been. This team has the talent and togetherness to make a semifinal run considering the matchups, but it blew it.
15.
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Portugal     -- Cristiano Ronaldo could get nothing going against a Uruguayan central defense that he's extremely familiar with. Somebody else had to step up and nobody really did. Sent packing as expected. So much for building on Euro 2016.
16.
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Spain -- Where do we start? Looked good in attack against Spain but did very little else the rest of the way. Maybe we were kidding ourselves. But firing the coach two days before the cup wasn't going to make it any easier. A debacle. 

Teams eliminated in the group stage

RK TEAM
CHG ANALYSIS
17.
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Senegal -- Unlucky to go out on yellow cards. Was fun while it lasted and they have a bright future. 
18.
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South Korea -- Scored a huge win over Germany to end the tournament on a high note and eliminate the reigning champs. Played better than expected, but it was a tough group.
19.
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Germany -- The worst World Cup this national team has ever experienced in modern history. A shocking effort that raises serious questions. 
20.
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Nigeria -- Had a chance to move on but was unfortunate not to get a draw against Argentina to move on. Showed up in one match, didn't in the other two. 
21.
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Poland -- Congrats on the win. It came 180 minutes too late. Great in qualifying, horrible at the World Cup. 
22.
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Peru -- Got a win against Australia to earn a memorable moment before headed home. This team played well, but the finishing was off. Decent showing.
23.
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Serbia -- Cooled off after winning the opener. Discouraging performance. Had the chances and couldn't put them away.
24.
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Iceland -- The underdog couldn't do it. The Euro 2016 run wasn't a fluke, but it just came across a tough group that it couldn't handle. 
25.
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Costa Rica -- Ended the tourney on a draw, but far away from its expectations when before the start of the tourney. Could be the end of an era with many important players towards the end of their careers. 
26.
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Iran -- Unlucky to not beat Portugal. It was always going to be hard to get out of the group stage. It had a chance, but it failed to capitalize on it. Oh, what could have been.
27.
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Morocco -- I really like how this team played. Effort and heart, but Morocco wasted so many chances that it makes me sick to think about it. 
28.
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Australia -- Not nearly enough quality to contend. Very predictable in attack. Can't just score on penalty kicks.
29.
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Saudi Arabia -- Picked up a win over Egypt to end on a positive note. Well done.
30.
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Tunisia -- Ended with a win over Panama for its second-ever World Cup victory. That's something at least. 
31.
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Egypt -- Mohamed Salah and 10 more. Never really stood a chance. I never got the pre-tournament hype for this team. 
32.
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Panama -- Three matches, three losses. As expected, but it was fun at least. Panama celebrated goals like it just won the final, and that shows you just what its first trip to the cup meant to this small nation. 

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Roger Gonzalez is an award-winning writer based in Virginia that has covered pro soccer from Europe's top clubs to Argentina's first division. Roger started out his pro soccer writing career with Goal.com... Full Bio

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