South Africa climb seven places

Only about 20 friendly matches were played worldwide in the last few weeks. Accordingly, there were only minor changes to the latest edition of the FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking, the last to be published before the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™.

The head-to-head battle for top spot between leaders Brazil and European champions Spain continues, and both have a clear lead over the chasing pack of Portugal, Netherlands and Italy. Trailing even farther behind, after Germany, Argentina, England and France, are two teams not participating South Africa 2010 – Croatia and Russia – who are likely to lose even more ground after the tournament.

Meanwhile, hosts South Africa have received a boost, winning not only two friendly matches, but also gaining seven places in the ranking (83rd, up 7), which is more than any other team. The only other teams to climb five or more places were Oman (91st, up 6) and Estonia (99th, up 5). In the top 100, Burkina Faso (48th, up 4) and Montenegro (64th, up 1) are currently in their highest-ever position since the World Ranking was introduced.

Of the top 20 teams, only Croatia, Russia and Egypt will be absent in South Africa. On the basis of this edition of the World Ranking, Group G, which includes Brazil, Portugal and Côte d’Ivoire, is still the strongest, but only if the best three teams are taken into account (average position 10th, points 1,239). However, if all four teams in each group are evaluated, Germany’s Group D (18th on average) comes out on top in terms of rank, while Spain’s Group H is strongest on points (1,013 on average), well ahead of the supposed “group of death” (34th, 1,000 points).

The next FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking will be published on 14 July 2010.