France overtake Brazil
While leaders Italy retain top spot twelve months on from the start of the last year’s FIFA World Cup TM in Germany, there are some big changes afoot in the latest FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking on the back of almost 120 matches in the past four weeks. A pair of victories in EURO 2008 qualifiers sees France climb to second place (up 2) at the expense of Brazil (3rd, down 1). Argentina (5th, down 2) fail two spots, while Germany bask in their highest position in more than four years (4th, up 1). With the Copa America, the fall in value of the results from last year’s World Cup and crucial EURO 2008 qualifiers coming up, there are likely to be more changes in the top 10 in the not too distant future.
Further down the ranking, the USA (16th, up 13), flying high again thanks to a successful start to their Gold Cup campaign, overhaul Mexico (36th, down 6) for the time being as CONCACAF’s top team. Bosnia-Herzegovina 928th, up 20) and Northern Ireland (29th, up 4) both record their highest placings since the ranking’s launch in 1993. Morocco (35th, up 12) and Norway (36th, up 13) make eye-catching progress as a result of successes in continental qualifying tournaments, but even their achievements are overshadowed by Canada (56th, up 38) and, most notably, surprise packages Armenia (80th, up 48).
While a further eight teams – the majority from Africa – climb more than ten places, newcomers Montenegro, who complete the ranking as FIFA’s 208th member association, had an inauspicious introduction to the international game with close defeats to Japan and Colombia and therefore prop up to the ranking still awaiting their first points.