Wednesday, September 21, 2011

England down rankings despite two wins

The curiosities of the FIFA world ranking system reared its head again this week after the latest edition saw England drop four places from fourth to eighth, despite winning their last two games.

Not that fourth is anywhere near an accurate assessment of where England sit among the world’s footballing elite, but is seems the way teams are ordered is done in an apparently random way, regardless of their recent football scores.

Those who arrange the standings will insist – and seek to prove – it is not. They are worked out using the results over the past four years. However, if you consider England moved up to fourth last August despite not even playing a game – only to drop down again after winning two out of two – you can understand why some people find the rankings a little confusing and therefore dismiss them as a reliable way of judging the best teams in the world.

Elsewhere in the rankings common sense was restored with Spain moving back above Holland into top spot - anyone who goes to watch football live will tell you that they are the best team in the world by a distance at present. The ever reliable Germany are third just ahead of Copa America winners Uruguay.

There was mixed news for the home nations. Wales – who were always unnaturally low - return to the top 100, climbing 27 places to 90th after their Euro 2012 qualifying win over Montenegro, but Northern Ireland fall 11 places to 70th following damaging and disappointing defeats by Estonia and Serbia.

The Republic of Ireland are up two places to 29th after draws with Slovakia and Russia (though I feel they deserve to go higher than that given the importance of the Russia result) while Scotland rise three to 52nd after drawing with the Czech Republic and beating Lithuania.

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