With less than two months to go before the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™ begins, Paraguay are firmly focused on their opening Group F game against Italy in Cape Town. Given the circumstances, the timing of their six-place rise to 23rd on the FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking could hardly have come at a better time.
The climb represents a welcome confidence boost for La Albirroja, though it still leaves them some way short of their highest-ever ranking of eighth, which they achieved in March 2001 and again in July that year. Having exited the top 20 in July last year after an uninterrupted eight-month stay, and then making a brief return in August, the Paraguayans are moving in the right direction again.
That fall out of the upper echelons of the Ranking coincided with a momentary loss of form in South American Zone qualifying for South Africa 2010, with Gerardo Martino’s side going four games without a victory. They then closed the campaign in fine style, booking their ticket to the world finals one game early and eventually finishing third in the group, a point adrift of winners Brazil and behind Chile only on goal difference.
When Martino took on the job in February 2007, La Albirroja stood 30th overall. His first major test came in the Copa America in Venezuela that year, where Paraguay advanced to the quarter-finals before slumping to a 6-0 loss to Mexico. The following month they dropped a rung to 31st.
A fine start to their FIFA World Cup qualifying campaign, during which they claimed ten out of the first 12 points available, helped the Paraguayans end the year in a promising 17th position, reflecting the revival Martino had engineered since taking over.
They reached their peak under the Argentinian in February and March 2009, when they rose to 15th, the first time they had climbed so high since April 2002.
And though they have since slipped out of the top 20, there is little question that Martino is guiding the men in red and white in the right direction. Should they put on a good show in South Africa, starting with that testing opener against the reigning world champions, they can even entertain hopes of matching or bettering their all-time high.
Calculation of points for a single match
P = M x I x T x C
M: points for Match result
Teams gain 3 points for a victory, 1 point for a draw and 0 points for a defeat. In a penalty shoot-out, the winning team gains 2 points and the losing team gains 1 point.
I: Importance of match
Friendly match (including small competitions): I = 1.0
FIFA World Cup™ qualifier or confederation-level qualifier: I = 2.5
Confederation-level final competition or FIFA Confederations Cup: I = 3.0
FIFA World Cup™ final competition: I = 4.0
T: strength of opposing Team
The strength of the opponents is based on the formula: 200 – the ranking position of the opponents.As an exception to this formula, the team at the top of the ranking is always assigned the value 200 and the teams ranked 150th and below are assigned a minimum value of 50. The ranking position is taken from the opponents’ ranking in the most recently published FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking.
C: strength of Confederation
When calculating matches between teams from different confederations, the mean value of the confederations to which the two competing teams belong is used. The strength of a confederation is calculated on the basis of the number of victories by that confederation at the last three FIFA World Cup™ competitions (see following page). Their values are as follows:
|Points Last Month|
|Points outside Ranking calculation|
|PAR - CRC||2:0||3||1||147||0.94||414.54|