Germany set benchmark again
© AFP

For the fifth consecutive time, world champions Germany top the year-end FIFA Women's World Ranking, which, given their successful Women's World Cup campaign, should come as little surprise. The USA and Sweden follow in second and third place, with World Cup runners-up Brazil only slightly behind.

Germany did not go through 2007 with an impeccable international record, however. A dip in form in last spring's Algarve Cup, the 'mini World Cup' of the women's game, even resulted in the top spot being lost to the USA. Indeed, from a purely statistical point of view, the USA actually posted the most impressive record in 2007, with 19 victories from 24 matches, their only defeat coming against Brazil in the Women's World Cup semi-final. Although it proved costly for the Americans, victory had the opposite effect for Marta and Co as it propelled Brazil into the leading pack of teams for the very first time. England, who find themselves in the top ten at the end of the year for the first time, are another team who enjoyed a fine 2007.

Further down the ranking, a whole host of teams have taken significant strides with Thailand (33rd, up 7), Algeria (70th, up 14), Azerbaijan (70th, up 9) and Tahiti (93rd, up 15) all proof of the progress being made around the world.

Following on from 2006, which was a record year for women's football, there are two more impressive statistics from 2007. The total of 444 matches came close to equalising the record set in 2006 (448), and 2007 also saw the ranking feature 150 teams for the very first time. 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 March 2008.