International Football: Mathematical Ranking of Every National Team

Frank Wagner@Fw1812Correspondent IAugust 1, 2012

International Football: Mathematical Ranking of Every National Team

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    Over the past several years, many have tried (and failed) to create an adequate ranking system for international football.

    The most mainstream of them, the FIFA rankings, has produced such ludicrous results that the system has become the butt of all jokes. For example, in their last rankings, England was ranked fourth in the world.

    So over the past few weeks, I have created my own ranking system: the FrankFA ratings, if you would.

    In this system, I have incorporated four factors in scoring each nation's performance over the past four years:

    1. Results of each match
    2. Importance of the match
    3. Strength of opponent
    4. Continental Strength

    From there, I used simple mathematics to create a score out of 1000 points for each team.

    After a bit of tinkering with formulas and methods, I came to a result that produced results that I deem acceptable.

    Note that by no means do I believe the system to be complete.

    Hence, I greatly encourage you to voice any inconsistencies you see (a team being ranked where it ought not to be), suggestions you think of or questions you have in the comment section below.

    All thoughts are welcome and will be a big help to making this system as good as possible.

    So where does your country rank?

    Without further ado, here are my first international football rankings.

208-181

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      Nation FrankFA Points FIFA Ranking
    208 Turks and Caicos Islands 2.71 205
    207 Montserrat 6.48 205
    206 Bahamas 11.99 171
    205 Anguilla 15.56 202
    204 Sao Tome e Principe 18.90 132
    203 Mauritania 19.15 202
    202 British Virgin Islands 21.00 199
    201 Samoa 21.66 173
    200 US Virgin Islands 22.50 177
    199 Brunei Darussalam 22.86 201
    198 Eritrea 25.23 189
    197 Cayman Islands 26.83 178
    196 American Samoa 27.41 183
    195 Timor-Leste 27.64 204
    194 Bhutan 29.19 205
    193 Aruba 29.25 164
    192 Guam 32.52 194
    191 Bermuda 32.86 117
    190 St Lucia 35.57 186
    189 Papua New Guinea 41.49 187
    188 Mongolia 42.03 184
    187 Dominica 43.21 172
    186 Djibouti 43.91 196
    185 Tonga 45.23 175
    184 Guinea-Bissau 46.45 169
    183 Dominican Republic 46.65 130
    182 Central African Republic 49.19 73
    181 Mauritius 49.27 193








     

     

    Analysis

    The bottom 30 teams are filled with many of the same teams as the FIFA rankings.

    The biggest drop from the FIFA rankings was the Central African Republic, who fell over 100 spots to 182nd. That is probably because these rankings counted the fact that the Africans dropped out of the World Cup greatly against them.

    Other big drops included the Dominican Republic, Bermuda and Sao Tome e Principe, none of which appeared in or even got to the final round of any major tournament.

180-151

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      Nation FrankFA Points FIFA Ranking
    180 Macau 49.83 199
    179 Comoros 49.92 185
    178 Belize 50.89 131
    177 Puerto Rico 51.05 140
    176 Somalia 51.91 191
    175 Kyrgyzstan 52.16 196
    174 Madagascar 55.71 167
    173 Seychelles 58.52 187
    172 Liberia 61.22 120
    171 Nicaragua 63.42 141
    170 Sierra Leone 63.72 65
    169 Pakistan 66.10 178
    168 Cook Islands 66.54 195
    167 San Marino 66.80 205
    166 Curacao 70.46 158
    165 Barbados 70.54 170
    164 Laos 73.34 190
    163 Chad 73.54 123
    162 St Kitts and Nevis 76.97 112
    161 Cambodia 78.59 192
    160 Afghanistan 79.17 162
    159 St Vincent and the Grenadines 79.82 146
    158 Congo 85.40 91
    157 Grenada 86.81 142
    156 Gambia 87.78 128
    155 Chinese Taipei 87.83 176
    154 Suriname 90.74 132
    153 Swaziland 92.40 182
    152 Sri Lanka 95.52 181
    151 Solomon Islands 95.72 174

     

    Analysis

    Again, this group lands fairly close to the FIFA rankings.

    There are a few big movers mixed in, though.

    For example, Sierra Leone's ranking of 65th in the FIFA rankings falls all the way to 170 in these rankings. For a team who has failed to make it through Africa to any major tournament in the past four years, this ranking seems a bit more realistic.

    On the other hand, San Marino rose from 205 in the FIFA rankings to 167 in these despite losing every match they took part in during the last four years. Very strange.

150-121

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      Nation FrankFA Points FIFA Ranking
    150 Cuba 96.62 149
    149 Bangladesh 98.11 151
    148 Cape Verde Islands 98.37 79
    147 Niger 104.45 114
    146 Equatorial Guinea 105.73 111
    145 Nepal 105.98 155
    144 Lesotho 106.99 166
    143 Haiti 109.91 62
    142 Andorra 110.70 198
    141 Tahiti 112.10 138
    140 Guyana 112.76 109
    139 Hong Kong 114.72 160
    138 Vanuatu 114.88 168
    137 Benin 114.98 78
    136 Antigua and Barbuda 115.96 106
    135 Burundi 119.22 136
    134 Maldives 119.28 164
    133 Ethiopia 119.69 119
    132 Turkmenistan 120.73 137
    131 Fiji 133.29 161
    130 Tajikistan 138.75 124
    129 Namibia 142.21 117
    128 Myanmar 142.90 180
    127 Palestine 143.59 154
    126 Yemen 143.73 148
    125 Togo 145.75 98
    124 Canada 148.81 68
    123 Liechtenstein 149.84 149
    122 Lebanon 150.42 144
    121 Libya 150.99 39

     

    Analysis

    The big story of this set is the great disparity between Libya's 39th ranking in the FIFA formula and 121st ranking in this one.

    Libya made one Cup of Nations out of a possible two in the past four years, and failed to get out of the group in that one. Further, they lost out in World Cup qualification during the second round, not even getting to the third. Perhaps 121 is a bit low, though.

    Also, Canada fell from 68th in FIFA to 124 in this one. Similar to Libya, their inability to make the World Cup or succeed at the Gold Cup in a relatively weak continent hurt them here.

120-91

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      Nation FrankFA Points FIFA Ranking
    120 Faroe Islands 151.46 155
    119 DR Congo 154.95 114
    118 Guinea 156.19 75
    117 New Caledonia 159.10 143
    116 Vietnam 162.44 120
    115 Malta 162.96 145
    114 Senegal 163.10 61
    113 Philippines 166.00 152
    112 Rwanda 166.70 125
    111 Guatemala 166.99 88
    110 Kazakhstan 167.50 147
    109 Burkina Faso 170.49 87
    108 Zimbabwe 173.33 100
    107 India 173.65 163
    106 Indonesia 174.49 153
    105 Malaysia 177.45 157
    104 Luxembourg 178.09 110
    103 Singapore 178.55 158
    102 Mozambique 183.18 107
    101 Trinidad and Tobago 188.97 80
    100 Morocco 196.30 71
    99 Angola 198.92 86
    98 Cyprus 202.68 122
    97 Thailand 205.94 135
    96 Gabon 207.54 45
    95 Jamaica 211.12 63
    94 Mali 211.73 40
    93 Malawi 212.99 93
    92 Iceland 213.10 129
    91 Armenia 213.29 55

     

    Analysis

    The big news of this set of nations is again one African team's drop from a relatively high FIFA ranking to this ranking. This time, it was Mali.

    Mali appeared in both Africa Cup of Nations, even coming in third in January's tournament. However, they missed out on the World Cup and had poor friendly results.

    Hence, they dropped from 40th to 94th. Honestly, the drop seems a bit steep.

    In a more understandably large fall, Armenia went from 55th to 91st.

    After a poor World Cup qualifying campaign that saw them finish last in their group, the Armenians had a good showing in qualification for Euro 2012. However, they finished third and missed out on yet another major tournament.

    Meanwhile, India rose a considerable amount from 163 to 107, mostly thanks to their appearance in the 2011 Asian Cup finals.

90-61

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      Nation FrankFA Points FIFA Ranking
    90 Botswana 213.83 113
    89 Kenya 214.08 125
    88 Tanzania 215.53 127
    87 Scotland 215.97 49
    86 Moldova 217.09 139
    85 Tunisia 218.86 43
    84 Panama 220.61 48
    83 El Salvador 220.72 67
    82 Northern Ireland 222.52 102
    81 Syria 224.07 132
    80 Wales 226.59 38
    79 Georgia 231.62 97
    78 Sudan 236.61 105
    77 Algeria 237.06 35
    76 Uganda 237.09 85
    75 Lithuania 237.18 90
    74 Macedonia 237.61 103
    73 Azerbaijan 238.97 108
    72 Austria 241.08 60
    71 Bulgaria 243.11 92
    70 Israel 246.92 82
    69 Cameroon 247.43 59
    68 Albania 248.19 75
    67 Montenegro 250.58 50
    66 United Arab Emirates 251.42 116
    65 Latvia 252.51 72
    64 Nigeria 253.99 58
    63 Finland 258.28 74
    62 Bolivia 259.83 83
    61 Belarus 263.04 77

     

    Analysis

    Over the past year or so, Wales has greatly improved in their play and their results. As a result, they have shot up the FIFA rankings, reaching 38th this past month.

    However, since their great form has only led them to a more respectable exit from EURO 2012 qualifying, they have only moved up to 80th in these rankings.

    Meanwhile, Moldova's respectable nine points in EURO 2012 qualifying made them the highest climber of this set of nations, going from 139th to 86th.

60-31

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      Nation FrankFA Points FIFA Ranking
    60 Oman 265.88 96
    59 Belgium 266.15 53
    58 Hungary 267.02 31
    57 Norway 272.45 24
    56 Romania 274.32 52
    55 Costa Rica 275.05 57
    54 New Zealand 275.60 95
    53 China 276.85 68
    52 Estonia 280.27 56
    51 Uzbekistan 287.90 65
    50 Jordan 289.08 84
    49 South Africa 295.75 68
    48 Bosnia-Herzegovina 296.63 30
    47 Zambia 299.73 41
    46 Kuwait 301.01 93
    45 Egypt 301.93 42
    44 Iraq 303.27 81
    43 Turkey 304.02 29
    42 Saudi Arabia 307.31 101
    41 Honduras 314.19 63
    40 Ukraine 321.66 46
    39 Qatar 322.45 98
    38 Bahrain 323.19 103
    37 Poland 323.37 54
    36 Ivory Coast 324.60 16
    35 Slovenia 326.36 34
    34 Switzerland 331.73 21
    33 Ecuador 337.47 27
    32 Slovakia 338.79 44
    31 Republic of Ireland 339.84 26

     

    Analysis

    Even though they don't represent the biggest difference between my rankings and the FIFA rankings, New Zealand's of 54th is the story of this set.

    Fresh off of losing in the OFC Cup, the Kiwis rely on their undefeated World Cup and Confederation Cup appearance to establish their spot.

    On the other hand, Norway and the Ivory Coast represent the biggest drops of the set.

    Despite having not appeared in either the World Cup or EURO 2012, FIFA still has the Norwegians ranked at 24th. This list drops them to 57th.

    The Ivory Coast, on the other hand, were in all three of the major tournaments for which they were eligible.

    However, a quarterfinal exit in the 2010 Cup of Nations and an elimination from the World Cup group stage saw them fall 20 spots from 16th to 36th.

30-21

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      Nation FrankFA Points FIFA Ranking
    30 Korea DPR 340.01 89
    29 Croatia 341.60 9
    28 Russia 345.47 13
    27 Czech Republic 347.21 18
    26 Colombia 352.68 22
    25 Serbia 353.39 37
    24 Sweden 355.01 17
    23 Iran 360.57 50
    22 Peru 361.47 32
    21 USA 382.92 36

     

    Analysis

    North Korea are the big movers in this list and there's a reason.

    The North Koreans made the World Cup in 2010, but were eliminated from the group stage. Further, they were eliminated from the group stage of the 2011 Asian Cup. Those seem to point to a ranking more along the lines of FIFA's 89th spot, but there's one thing that pushes the North Koreans up: friendlies.

    Korea DPR played a vast amount of friendlies over the past four years and won most of them.

    This points to some tweaks that need to be made in the formulas, but never fear: North Korea will soon fall, as they have already been eliminated from qualification for the 2014 World Cup.

    The next two are points of contention: Croatia and Russia.

    While my initial reaction is to say that this is far too low for such talented teams, it must be pointed out that both have vastly under-achieved over the past four years. After all, neither made the World Cup and both were eliminated from EURO 2012 in the group stage.

    The next four countries seem pretty well placed, but the last three are surprising.

    Iran's jump from 50 to 23 is great, but quite shocking considering the fact that they missed out on the World Cup and were eliminated from the quarterfinals of the Asian Cup.

    Peru's positioning makes some sense given their third place finish in the Copa America.

    Finally, the United States's trips to both Gold Cup finals and the World Cup Round of 16 coupled with their profitable win over Spain somewhat explains their positioning.

20-11

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      Nation FrankFA Points FIFA Ranking
    20 Denmark 384.01 10
    19 Greece 398.78 12
    18 Ghana 400.48 33
    17 Venezuela 414.50 47
    16 France 420.74 14
    15 Mexico 423.21 19
    14 Australia 442.07 23
    13 South Korea 450.69 28
    12 England 455.81 4
    11 Chile 474.10 15

     

    Analysis:

    Denmark's inability to get out of either the World Cup or EURO 2012 group stage makes their position at 20 much more understandable than their FIFA ranking of 10.

    Greece made both the World Cup and EURO 2012 in style, yet did not impress at the tournaments. Still, they ended up in the EURO quarters and made their 19th spot well deserved.

    To me, Ghana are hugely undervalued in the FIFA rankings. I mean, the Africans were in the World Cup quarterfinals (and probably should have been in the semis) and made the final of the 2010 Africa Cup of Nations. The only real drop is their poor 2012 Africa Cup, where they only made the semifinals. Come on, 18th still might be undervaluing them.

    Venezuela hopped from 47th to 17th because of their fourth place finish in the Copa America and their pretty good start to 2014 World Cup qualifying.

    From there, France and Mexico seem well placed, with Australia and South Korea representing Asia.

    England's 12th place ranking makes a lot more sense than FIFA's ranking them at fourth and Chile's strong World Cup and Copa runs make them 11th.

10. Japan

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    FrankFA Points: 497.59

    FIFA Ranking: 20

     

    Analysis

    Japan looks to be an up-and-comer heading into the 2014 World Cup.

    Their great play at the 2010 World Cup established them as a joy to watch in their run to the Round of 16.

    The next year, they captured the 2011 Asian Cup in Qatar.

    With rising stars like Shinji Kagawa, expect Japan to make waves in Brazil.

9. Portugal

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    FrankFA Points: 508.54

    FIFA Ranking: 5

     

    Analysis

    Portugal showed their great talent at EURO 2012 as they came the closest anyone has come to knocking off this Spain side.

    In fact, Spain are the only reason that the Portuguese have lost been eliminated from any major tournament in the past four years.

    However, they have just been too inconsistent in qualifying, a fact that has dragged their ranking down.

    In both qualifying campaigns, Portugal finished second to Denmark and needed a playoff to get to the tournament.

    Luckily, they are not grouped with the Danes in 2014 World Cup qualification.

8. Argentina

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    FrankFA Points: 518.03

    FIFA Ranking: 7

     

    Analysis

    Yes, Messi is one ahead of Ronaldo.

    Argentina has been quite impressive over the past year, but their inconsistencies before that have cost them.

    Most nations would kill for quarterfinal appearances in both the World Cup and the Copa America, but this is a slump for Argentina.

7. Italy

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    FrankFA Points: 520.32

    FIFA Ranking: 6

     

    Analysis

    Italy's run to the EURO 2012 final definitely gives them a case for a higher spot.

    However, the Italians had quite a turbulent 2010 World Cup, losing out in the group stage to the likes of Slovakia.

    Expect the Italians to crawl up the rankings as 2014 qualifying continues.

6. Brazil

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    FrankFA Points: 544.01

    FIFA Ranking: 11

     

    Analysis

    Just like Argentina, Brazil is in a relative slump with quarterfinal exits in both the World Cup and Copa America.

    However, they have been dominating in other matches and still have a Confederations Cup title to their name.

    FIFA's 11th ranking seems far too low for these guys.

5. Paraguay

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    FrankFA Points: 562.85

    FIFA Ranking: 25

     

     

    Analysis

    Here's the shocker of the list.

    If I were to ask you where Paraguay should be on this list, chances are you'd tell me around where the FIFA rankings have them, which was 25th.

    But think back on Paraguay's past four years.

    At the World Cup, Paraguay went out in the quarterfinals to an all-time great Spain in a match in which they were a penalty away from taking control.

    At the Copa America, they made it (albeit strangely) to the final before falling to Uruguay.

    Since those, Paraguay has not looked like a fifth ranked nation, but according to this formula they still are.

4. Germany

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    FrankFA Points: 631.96

    FIFA Ranking: 2

     

     

    Analysis

    Germany cannot seem to get over the hump at the big tournaments, but they consistently get themselves deep into tournaments.

    A World Cup semi and a EURO semi makes them a shoo-in for the top of any ranking.

3. Netherlands

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    FrankFA Points: 654.43

    FIFA Ranking: 8

     

     

    Analysis

    Yes, they came unglued in a huge way at EURO 2012.

    But a World Cup final appearance and incredible performances in qualifiers keeps the Dutch ahead of their German rivals.

2. Uruguay

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    FrankFA Points: 664.58

    FIFA Ranking: 3

     

     

    Analysis

    Uruguay's run to the World Cup semifinal in 2010 was surprising.

    When they backed it up with the 2011 Copa America title, though, they established themselves as a world great.

    Since then, they have continued their great play into World Cup qualifiers.

    The only question mark is how the South Americans will deal at big tournaments with Diego Forlan's skills clearly fading.

    Still, expect Uruguay to be a contender in Brazil.

1. Spain

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    FrankFA Points: 843.69

    FIFA Ranking: 1

     

     

    Analysis

    Do I even have to say anything here?

    They are not only clearly the best team in the world right now, but the Spaniards are also making a convincing case for the best national side in the world.

    Spain are the obvious favorites for Brazil.

     

     

     

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