The FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking has always been a conversation-starter among football fans, and England’s position of third in the current edition has stimulated further debate. One of the major questions has been: 'How can a team which has failed to progress beyond the Round of 16 of the 2010 FIFA World Cup™ and the quarter-finals of UEFA EURO 2012 achieve such a high position?’
The answer is simple: they have been a model of consistency.
The Ranking is based on the results of the past four years, during which time England have played 45 matches, won 29 and lost just six. Indeed, during their qualifying campaigns for the past FIFA World Cup and the EUROs, they have been beaten just once, on 10 October 2009 in Ukraine.
Over the past two years, England have emerged victorious against high-ranked nations such as Spain, Denmark, Sweden and Norway and only suffered one defeat, in a friendly against France at Wembley. While their recent quarter-final defeat to Italy in Poland/Ukraine may have been symptomatic of the team's fortunes at major tournaments, it came as a result of a penalty shoot-out, which the Ranking counts as a draw.
England’s rise this month was also attributable in part due to Uruguay having lost points due to the devaluation of matches in last year’s Copa America.
If you want to be good then you have to have the best facilities and here we have the best facility that I’ve ever seen.
New training centre to open
Going forward, plans are already in place to maintain England's place among football’s leading nations with the opening of their new training centre St. George’s Park in the next few weeks. As well as boasting 11 on-site training pitches and an indoor 3G facility which replicates the dimensions of Wembley, it will also become the educational hub for English Football for Coach Education and all the FA’s development programmes. All England teams will use the complex and Roy Hodgson will prepare his teams there for future games.
England legend and FIFA World Cup winner Sir Bobby Charlton has been given a private tour of the facility and is a big fan.
“The FA has made sure everything is the best; you just have to look round and there is the best equipment, the best facilities, the best medical facilities, the best food and hotels,” he said. “Every one of the pitches is of the highest quality of anywhere in the world. It is beautiful.
“I have never been so pleased and never been so hopeful, and if we have to be hopeful – and I mean seriously hopeful – that one day we might again win the World Cup, then this is where it will be born. If you want to be good then you have to have the best facilities and here we have the best facility that I’ve ever seen. It is just sensational."
*For more information on how the Ranking is calculated, please click on the PDF links on the right hand side.