We have officially made it from the round robin stage to the “Ground Robben” stage, as in Arjen Robben’s dive seen ‘round the world, which lifted the Netherlands into the World Cup quarterfinals, and gave the world a few more precious moments from Mexico coach Miguel Herrera. We will miss thee, El Tri, and we will miss the African contingent, but once again we are reminded that the hand that giveth a water break can also taketh your heart away in the waning moments of stoppage time. While football can be cruel, it’s never a good idea to bite the hand that feeds you — we are looking at you, Luis Suarez.

 

It feels like we have already seen it all in this truly brilliant global spectacle, but as of the morning of Tuesday, July 1 , there are still 10 nations left standing. That means it is a perfect time to take stock and rank the remainders, from one through 10.

 

#10: Switzerland: Your correspondent has been tough on this squad since they were granted an undeserving top-eight seed at the World Cup draw in December. In truth, there have been some moments of splendor from the Swiss. Questions remain, however, about their ability to compete with the big boys, and they are paired with one of the biggest boys of them all, Argentina. Simply put, the Messi express will continue to roll, and he will put his stamp on another match as he stamps out Swiss hopes.

 

#9: USA: Is it crazy to think that the stars are aligned for the Americans? The Belgians are bruised, inexperienced and still searching for their top form. Meanwhile, the USMNT is playing with a newfound confidence and vigor. Plus, Jozy is no longer on a vacation far away, and he is back on the practice field. Still, we can not discount how Germany dominated this squad, and cumulatively the Americans ranked 31 of 32 teams in terms of possession in the group stage. Yikes! This one is there for the taking, but in the end, we will take Belgium…regrettably.

 

#8: Belgium: See above. It is a toss-up. Your correspondent might just talk himself into a victory for the US. For the time being, though, he will stick with his guns. Belgium advances.

 

#7: Costa Rica: It is impossible to say anything disparaging about Costa Rica ever. They are certainly in contention for Best Country Ever status. Team Pura Vida showed tremendous heart playing a man down against the Greeks on Sunday. Moroever, it is not easy spending 120 minutes trying to fend off all that back hair. We believe in Los Ticos, and they are the true underdog in this bunch. As long as they keep their feet away from Robben, we could be raising a pint of Imperial as we toast Costa Rica into the Final Four.

 

#6: The Netherlands: The Oranje have already given us the good, the bad and the ugly. Quite frankly, they’re capable of anything, and now they must assume the role the Villains of the Cup. They have not been the same since their dismantling of Spain, and they will have to find that level if they want to find a way to advance.

 

#5: Colombia: When your famous fans are Shakira and Sofia Vergara, you are doing something right, and, in a way, you have already won. The Colombians have an attacking style, they like to dance and they have given us the goal of the tournament, off the chest and boot of James Rodriguez. In a way, they are like Brazil Light. The problem is they draw the host nation in the quarterfinals. We give them more than a fighting chance, but the host country gets the hometown bounce into the semis.

 

#4: Argentina: We easily could have placed the Albiceleste in the top slot, but there is a lingering feeling that they are a little less than the sum of their parts. Something seems slightly off, but do not blame Messi, who has left no doubt that he is the best player on the planet. His performance in the group stage has been breathtaking; yet, can he carry his team all the way to the Cup? The good news is that, if nothing else, we still get to indulge in our odd fascination with the freakishness that is Diego Maradona. As long as Argentina advances, we will get gratuitous photos of Maradona acting strangely in the stands. Thank you, Diego.

 

#3: France: Remember that thing we said earlier about it being really hard to disparage Costa Rica — see number 7 above? Obviously, France is just like that, but the total opposite. Les Bleus, however, may be the most enjoyable team to watch, top to bottom. Dare we say, they actually seem like they are having fun? For what it’s worth, Mathieu Valbuena is our favorite vertically-challenged player not named Messi. It will be an epic showdown with Germany. Our over-under on bad World War II puns between now and that match is 689.

 

#2: Germany: It begins with Joachim Loew, the Hasselhoff of World Cup coaches, which by the way is a huge compliment — Do not hate! Everything about this side is downright badass. They have all the tools, talent and discipline to be the last team standing. If you listen closely enough, though, you can hear the whispers that perhaps they are a little too slow in the backline. Fatal flaw? Potentially. Then again, your correspondent has one word for you: Schweinsteiger!!

 

#1: Brazil: We know they were lucky against Chile, but they always seem to do just enough to play their way out of danger. Even in the most gripping, nerve-wracking match of the World Cup, the Selecao never seem to worry. Neymar is transcendent, the atmosphere for their matches is electric and we love everything about the country. It will take a Herculean – or Hulk-ulean – effort to unseat them. We are not sure if Brazil is the best, but they will be the toughest to beat.

 

Who has impressed you the most in the World Cup? Share your thoughts below, or let me know @endbadly on Twitter.