Champions return to the top
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History has repeated itself: Germany's women have claimed the World Cup title and risen to the top of the FIFA Women's World Ranking, dethroning Olympic champions the USA in the process. The Germans' formidable run of five victories and one draw without conceding a goal, including four wins against teams that were in the top ten before the start of the tournament, earned Birgit Prinz and Co a haul of more than 50 points.

Nevertheless, the USA were able to limit the damage with a convincing win over Norway in the play-off for third place. This is only the third change in leadership of the women's world ranking, which has been dominated by Germany and the USA since its introduction four years ago. The Americans had only taken over as leaders in April following a disappointing showing by the Germans in the Algarve Cup.

The biggest movers in the latest world ranking are Brazil (3rd, up 5), whose five victories in the World Cup put them among the crème de la crème. The points total of World Cup surprise packages England (10th, up 2) also increases, but only slightly, as despite some excellent performances they only managed one victory. In any case, they are now in the top ten for the first time. Meanwhile, World Cup hosts China (13th, down 2) lose some ground, primarily due to England and Australia's progress up the ranking.

The FIFA Women's World Ranking was first published in July 2003 to rate some 150 FIFA member associations on the basis of several factors including victories, home advantage, the strength of the opposition and the importance of matches. The ranking is published four times each year. According to FIFA's Big Count survey in 2006, 26 million women and girls around the world currently play football.

- The next FIFA Women's World Ranking will be published on 21 December 2007.