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Thursday, June 17

World Cup rankings: Argentina rises to No. 1

Things can change quickly at a World Cup and a spectacular start is no guarantee of continued success. Germany's magnificent opening victory over Australia would seem to be a portent of big things to come, while pre-event favorite Spain's shocking defeat to Switzerland put a severe dent in its title aspirations.

However, there is still a long, long way to go in this tournament, with almost four weeks remaining before a champion is crowned.

Even so, the first-game performance of each of the 32 teams has provided plenty of fodder for discussion and speculation, and it gives us the chance to compile our first rankings since the World Cup began.

It is no surprise that Argentina and Germany come out on top at this early juncture, while the disappointing home nation languishes near the foot of the list.

These rankings were made after the first full week of the tournament – at the end of play on Thursday night.

World Cup rankings

1. Argentina – Burst into life under Diego Maradona with Lionel Messi and Gonzalo Higuain in full flow.

2. Germany – Looked fluid, confident and as efficient as ever in its swashbuckling opening victory over the Aussies.

3. Brazil – Wonderfully skilled, but Brazil could benefit from a more direct approach from now on.

4. Netherlands – Not at its best against Denmark but got the job done comfortably.

5. Ivory Coast – Tough and resilient, the Elephants have a real chance of surviving the Group of Death.

6. England – The Three Lions are hoping for Wayne Rooney to break through after a frustrating night against USA.

7. Switzerland – The Swiss produced a monumental shock by out-dueling the talented Spaniards.

8. Spain – Embarrassed by the Swiss but still capable of going deep in the tournament.

9. Italy – The 2006 champion showed its toughness by fighting back to snatch a draw against Paraguay.

10. Mexico – Came to life against France and sits on the verge of the last 16.

11. Portugal – Cristiano Ronaldo looks sharp but needs better service from the midfield.

12. Uruguay – Diego Forlan hit form in game two and the defense is extremely sturdy.

13. Chile – Plenty of attacking firepower and looking good to qualify from Group H.

14. Paraguay – Should be on course for a spot in Round 2 after a scrappy draw with Italy.

15. United States – Faces a huge showdown with Slovenia that could decide its fate.

16. South Korea – Brilliant start against Greece but found Argentina too strong.

17. Ghana – Fought hard to become the first African team to win at this World Cup.

18. Japan – Big upset against Cameroon showed there is some real flair in the squad.

19. Slovenia – Big and strong but technically limited, the Slovenians currently top Group C.

20. Greece – The Greeks recovered from a dreadful start with a much better display to beat Nigeria.

21. North Korea – The North Koreans put in a strong battling display while losing 2-1 to Brazil.

22. France – After a second straight pathetic display, the French will soon be heading home.

23. Slovakia – Seemed very nervous in its first game and was lacking the form it showed in qualifying.

24. Denmark – Failed to show any spark against the Netherlands and allowed an embarrassing own goal.

25. Cameroon – Biggest letdown of the African teams so far, with Samuel Eto'o unable to lift them.

26. New Zealand – Very limited but came back to show great spirit in carving out a draw that felt like a win.

27. Serbia – Couldn’t cope with Ghana and are already in danger of being dumped out of the tournament.

28. Honduras – Was totally overwhelmed by Chile and failed to mount any meaningful challenge.

29. Algeria – Not terrible defensively but the midfield is painfully disjointed.

30. Nigeria – Two straight defeats has made this campaign a huge disappointment.

31. South Africa – Host country showed little passion in slumping to a heavy defeat to Uruguay.

32. Australia – Was torn apart by the brilliant Germans and will now miss the suspended Tim Cahill.