Power Ranking Every World Football Nation Ahead of World Cup Qualifiers

Frank WagnerCorrespondent IJune 3, 2013

Power Ranking Every World Football Nation Ahead of World Cup Qualifiers

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    With the club season finally complete, international football is just heating up.

    A week of friendlies has set the stage for a summer of World Cup qualifying matches, which kicks off Tuesday with a few glamorous ties.

    Further, the Confederations Cup in Brazil is just around the corner, a tournament that will serve as an appetizer for next year's World Cup.

    So what should fans expect heading into this important month of international action?

    Using my recognized ranking system, every national team has been evaluated and placed in order.

    As was the case in my previous rankings, the metric for rating the teams is based upon performances over a four-year period.

    In each match, the teams were assigned a score based upon four key factors:

    1. The result of that particular match
    2. The importance of the match
    3. The quality of opposition in that match
    4. How recently that match was played

    Using these scores and a few more factors that bear less mentioning (i.e. continental power, the team's talent, etc), a series of operations are performed to give the team a final score out of 1000.

    The nations are then ranked by those scores, yielding the top 209 national teams.

    Now, it should be noted that this ranking is not meant to be used as a strict predictor of matches (though it can be used quite effectively through the use of some tough statistical analysis).

    Rather, form and talent are only a part of this list, as results at the highest level are valued greatly.

    Where does your favorite team rank?

    Without further ado, here is the latest installment of the Wagner World Rankings.

209-201

1 of 19
        Country Points Change
    209
     
      Turks and Caicos Islands
     
    Turks and Caicos Islands 0.6              -
    208
     
       
     
    Bhutan 3 -5
    207
     
      San Marino
     
    San Marino 9.8 -3
    206
     
      Montserrat
     
    Montserrat 17.9 +2
    205
     
      Anguilla
     
    Anguilla 24.6 +2
    204
     
      South Sudan
     
    South Sudan 29.2 +2
    203
     
      British Virgin Islands
     
    British Virgin Islands 31.8 +2
    202
     
        Djibouti
     
    Djibouti 33.2              -
    201
     
      Brunei
     
    Brunei Darussalam 43.7              -

     

    Analysis

    The bottom of the barrel has, unsurprisingly, stayed the same over the past month-and-a-half since the last rankings.

    The three teams in the last spots, San Marino, Bhutan and Turks and Caicos Islands, each have failed to get a result in any match over the past four years.

    The team with the best chance of getting out of this group is South Sudan.

    The Africans are in the bottom nine mostly because they are a brand new national side, with just four matches in their history (all within the past year).

    A draw with Uganda in their first match has them above the very bottom, but three losses since then can't get them out of the bottom nine.

200-181

2 of 19
        Country Points Change
    200
     
       Cook Islands
     
    Cook Islands 46.1              -
    199
     
       Macau
     
    Macau 49.2 -1
    198
     
       São Tomé and Príncipe
     
    Sao Tome e Principe 54.6 -1
    197
     
       Tonga
     
    Tonga 55.1 -2
    196
     
      American Samoa
     
    American Samoa 56.9 -3
    195
     
      Cayman Islands
     
    Cayman Islands 58.1 +4
    194
     
      Somalia
     
    Somalia 59.3 +2
    193
     
       Papua New Guinea
     
    Papua New Guinea 60.8 -3
    192
     
       Eritrea
     
    Eritrea 62.1 -9
    191
     
       Samoa
     
    Samoa 70.7 -4
    190
     
       East Timor
     
    Timor-Leste 71 +2
    189
     
       Dominica
     
    Dominica 71.5 +2
    188
     
       Mauritania
     
    Mauritania 71.6 +6
    187
     
       
     
    Seychelles 76.8 +1
    186
     
      Comoros
     
    Comoros 80.2 -2
    185
     
      United States Virgin Islands
     
    U.S. Virgin Islands 85.2 +1
    184
     
      Aruba
     
    Aruba 85.2 +1
    183
     
     
     
    Mauritius 85.5 -2
    182
     
      Barbados
     
    Barbados 85.6              -
    181
     
      Mongolia
     
    Mongolia 86.4 -1

     

    Analysis

    The biggest mover from this group of 20 nations is Eritrea, who fell nine spots from 183 to 192.

    The drop was the result of Eritrea's only result, a World Cup qualifying draw with Rwanda, getting even further away.

    Despite losing two fairly recent matches, Mauritania moved up six spots thanks to a few World Cup qualifying losses falling out of the four-year window.

180-151

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        Country Points Change
    180
     
      Saint Lucia
     
    St Lucia 90 +9
    179
     
      Madagascar
     
    Madagascar 91.8 -2
    178
     
      Guam
     
    Guam 96.7 +1
    177
     
      The Bahamas
     
    Bahamas 98.5 +1
    176
     
      Guinea-Bissau
     
    Guinea-Bissau 105.3              -
    175
     
      Vanuatu
     
    Vanuatu 106.7 -4
    174
     

    Chad
     
    Chad 113.1 -1
    173
     
      Cambodia
     
    Cambodia 113.9 +1
    172
     
      Kyrgyzstan
     
    Kyrgyzstan 116.7 -2
    171
     
      Bermuda
     
    Bermuda 119.4 +4
    170
     
      Swaziland
     
    Swaziland 122 -2
    169
     
      Sri Lanka
     
    Sri Lanka 123.9 -4
    168
     
      Curaçao
     
    Curacao 124.2 +4
    167
     
      Andorra
     
    Andorra 131.2 +2
    166
     
      Nicaragua
     
    Nicaragua 133 +1
    165
     
      Central African Republic
     
    Central African Republic 137.7 -1
    164
     
      Pakistan
     
    Pakistan 141.7 -3
    163
     
      The Gambia
     
    Gambia 142.8              -
    162
     
      Grenada
     
    Grenada 143.9 +4
    161
     
       
     Laos
    Suriname 144 +1
    160 Laos 153.5              -
    159
     
      Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
     
    St Vincent and the Grenadines 155.3              -
    158
     
      Saint Kitts and Nevis
     
    St Kitts and Nevis 157.3              -
    157
     
      Afghanistan
     
    Afghanistan 159              -
    156
     
      Chinese Taipei
     
    Chinese Taipei 160.1 -1
    155
     
      Puerto Rico
     
    Puerto Rico 162 +1
    154
     
     
     
    Cuba 162.4              -
    153
     
      Sierra Leone
     
    Sierra Leone 175.9 -1
    152
      Solomon Islands
    Solomon Islands 180.2 -10
    151

      Burundi

    Burundi 180.4 -3

     

    Analysis

    The middle of this group stayed mostly the same since the last rankings, but there were two very different stories on the opposite ends.

    On the bottom, St. Lucia moved up nine spots over the past month-and-a-half, thanks to a big win at Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.

    Meanwhile, the Solomon Islands fell quite a bit, dropping from 142 to 152, mostly due to their hefty losses at home in World Cup qualifying.

150-121

4 of 19
        Country Points Change
    150  Belize
    Belize
    181.4 +3
    149  Nepal Nepal 181.7 +1
    148  Cape Verde Cape Verde Islands 182.7 -5
    147  Niger
    Niger
    186.6 +2
    146  Faroe Islands
    Faroe Islands
    186.8 +5
    145  Hong Kong
    Hong Kong
    190.2 +2
    144  Lesotho
    Lesotho
    191 -
    143  Maldives
    Maldives
    192.7 -6
    142  Yemen
    Yemen
    193.1 +3
    141  Bangladesh
    Bangladesh
    195.5 -5
    140  Dominican Republic
    Dominican Republic
    197.3 -1
    139  Myanmar Myanmar 197.9 -5
    138  Malta
    Malta
    200.8 +8
    137  
    Liechtenstein
    201.1 +1
    136  Haiti
    Haiti
    204.9 -1
    135  Liberia
    Liberia
    206.4 +6
    134  Luxembourg
    Luxembourg
    206.9 +6
    133  Guyana
    Guyana
    210.9 -
    132  Turkmenistan
    Turkmenistan
    213.7 -6
    131  Equatorial Guinea
    Equatorial Guinea
    219.1 +1
    130  India
    India
    220.7 -
    129  Kazakhstan
    Kazakhstan
    229 +2
    128  Republic of the Congo
    Congo
    231.5 +1
    127  Fiji
    Fiji
    232.4 +2
    126  Tajikistan
    Tajikistan
    233.2 -1
    125  Zimbabwe
    Zimbabwe
    236.6 +3
    124  Antigua and Barbuda
    Antigua and Barbuda
    237 -
    123  Togo
    Togo
    237.3 -7
    122  Namibia
    Namibia
    238.5 -
    121  
    Benin
    239.1 -2

     

    Analysis

    The teams that moved up the best in this group are mostly European teams, such as the Faroe Islands, Malta and Luxembourg.

    None of those teams played a match over the past few months, but have only had losses move further into the past.

    Meanwhile, the biggest fall of these teams comes from Togo, who went from 116 to 123. This was mostly due to the fact that they replaced a World Cup qualifying victory over Cameroon from just over four years ago with a World Cup qualifying loss to the same team just a few months ago.

120-91

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        Country Points Change
    120  Indonesia Indonesia 240.1 +3
    119  Guinea Guinea 241.9 +2
    118  Cyprus Cyprus 244 +2
    117  Rwanda Rwanda 245.4 +1
    116   Trinidad and Tobago 245.6 -1
    115  Vietnam Vietnam 249 -1
    114  Malaysia Malaysia 249.3 +3
    113  State of Palestine Palestine 250.1               -
    112  French Polynesia Tahiti 257.7 -2
    111  Singapore Singapore 258.6 +1
    110  Mozambique Mozambique 264.2 -4
    109  Botswana Botswana 266.3 -2
    108   Northern Ireland 268.4 -8
    107   Tanzania 268.4 +1
    106  Libya Libya 269.1 +5
    105  Senegal Senegal 270 -4
    104  Sudan Sudan 271 -1
    103  Moldova Moldova 271.6 +6
    102  Lithuania Lithuania 278 +3
    101  Kenya Kenya 279.1 +1
    100  Malawi Malawi 279.2 -1
    99  Azerbaijan Azerbaijan 284 +5
    98  Democratic Republic of the Congo Democratic Republic Congo 284.1 -2
    97  Angola Angola 285.4                -
    96  Lebanon Lebanon 287.1 +2
    95  Morocco Morocco 293.6 -3
    94  Philippines Philippines 295.3 -3
    93  Ethiopia Ethiopia 296.1 +2
    92  Mali Mali 298.6 -5
    91  Latvia Latvia 301.3 -6

     

    Analysis

    The biggest shock of this group is how low Mali is, coming in at just 92nd place.

    While the Malians have finished third in each of the last two Africa Cup of Nations tournaments, other factors have conspired against them.

    After all, they put in a bad showing in qualification for the 2010 World Cup, losing to Ghana and drawing Benin, lost to Benin in 2014 World Cup qualifying, went out in the group stage of the 2010 Africa Cup of Nations and even put in some average performances in the group stage of the 2012 and 2013 Africa Cup of Nations before coming good.

    In essence, they still have some room for improvement and are facing some trouble from Algeria in their World Cup qualifying group.

    Meanwhile, the shake-ups in Europe continued to affect these standings, with Northern Ireland's home loss to Israel pushing them down.

90-61

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    CountryPointsChange
    90IcelandIceland302.2+4
    89GabonGabon302.7-5
    88Syria305.8+2
    87ThailandThailand306.7+1
    86WalesWales306.7+7
    85Georgia (country)Georgia311.2+4
    84Burkina Faso311.9-9
    83BoliviaBolivia312.7               -
    82El SalvadorEl Salvador313.1               -
    81Republic of MacedoniaMacedonia313.8+5
    80UgandaUganda318.1+1
    79EstoniaEstonia323.8-2
    78Scotland324.8+1
    77GuatemalaGuatemala325.2-1
    76JamaicaJamaica329.4-2
    75ArmeniaArmenia330.1+3
    74Canada330.9-2
    73AlbaniaAlbania331.5+7
    72CameroonCameroon334.1+1
    71ZambiaZambia338.7               -
    70BulgariaBulgaria344.2               -
    69FinlandFinland346.1               -
    68BelarusBelarus346.6               -
    67TunisiaTunisia350.9-4
    66Costa RicaCosta Rica355.6               -
    65AlgeriaAlgeria358.3+2
    64HondurasHonduras360.8-5
    63AustriaAustria362.1+2
    62New CaledoniaNew Caledonia363.3               -
    61New Zealand365.5-12

     

     

    Analysis

    This group is filled with middling teams that are poised to make big moves, one way or the other, over the next few years.

    Iceland and Wales are two teams on the rise, as the Welsh ride superstar Gareth Bale and the Icelanders look on their way to a shocking World Cup qualifying playoff appearance.

    Meanwhile, Scotland are heading in the other direction, as they are riding some minor successes from years ago to even be as high as they are.

    At the top of the group, New Zealand have fallen far over the past month or so, as their loss at the 2012 Nations Cup has replaced some better results from four years ago.

60-31

7 of 19
        Country Points Change
    60  Nigeria Nigeria 366.3 -5
    59   Oman 371.2 +2
    58   UAE 371.6 +6
    57   Bahrain 374 -3
    56  Saudi Arabia Saudi Arabia 375.3 -6
    55  Israel Israel 378 +5
    54  North Korea Korea DPR 380.3 -8
    53   China 382.3 -5
    52   Poland 383.1 +1
    51  Slovakia Slovakia 383.6 -
    50   Turkey 383.9 -6
    49  Qatar Qatar 384.7 +9
    48  Slovenia Slovenia 385.2 +8
    47   Hungary 387.9 -5
    46  Kuwait Kuwait 389.9 -1
    45  Norway Norway 390.4 +2
    44  South Africa South Africa 392.4 -4
    43  Montenegro Montenegro 392.5 +9
    42  Egypt Egypt 393.1 -5
    41  Ukraine Ukraine 393.8 +2
    40  Panama Panama 394.4 -4
    39  Peru Peru 398.1 +8
    38  Serbia Serbia 399.1 +1
    37  Jordan Jordan 402.5 +1
    36   Romania 402.8 +5
    35  Venezuela Venezuela 405.1 -
    34  Ghana Ghana 409.8 -3
    33   Uzbekistan 412 +1
    32   Iraq 415.9 -
    31  Paraguay Paraguay 419 +2

     

     

    Analysis

    The big climbers in this group are Qatar and Montenegro—both nations earned their big jump.

    For Qatar, a few friendly victories over the past month, combined with their push in World Cup qualifying, has them rising up the table and hoping for an improbable ticket to Brazil.

    Montenegro, meanwhile, keep improving and hold a lead over England, Ukraine and Poland in their World Cup qualifying group.

    Another team to watch for here is Israel, who are pushing Portugal to the brink in their qualifying group.

30-21

8 of 19
        Country Points Change
    30   USA 428.9 -1
    29  Belgium Belgium 440.7 +1
    28  Czech Republic Czech Republic 440.9 -
    27  Bosnia and Herzegovina Bosnia-Herzegovina 443 -2
    26   Switzerland 443.1 -2
    25  Republic of Ireland Republic of Ireland 446.6 +2
    24  Iran Iran 448 +2
    23   Ivory Coast 449.4 -5
    22   Denmark 449.6 -1
    21  Chile Chile 450.9 +1

    Analysis

    This range of teams were so close in their scores that very small changes switched their order quite a bit.

    The USA's win over a depleted Germany was not enough to save them from a small fall, as their loss to Belgium saw them switch spots with their conquerors.

    For Bosnia-Herzegovina and Switzerland, inactivity allowed Ireland and Iran to leapfrog them. However, both nations have nice leads in their World Cup qualifying groups and are poised to make appearances in Brazil.

    The Ivory Coast did nothing, dropping points just because a few hefty World Cup qualifying wins fell out of the four-year window.

    Finally, a draw at Brazil was good enough for them to swap spots with Denmark.

20-11

9 of 19
        Country Points Change
    20  Greece Greece 454.8 -
    19  Ecuador Ecuador 457.7 -
    18  Colombia Colombia 458.6 +5
    17  France France 465.1 -
    16   Australia 471 -
    15  Japan Japan 477.5 -3
    14  Sweden Sweden 482 +1
    13  Mexico Mexico 483.7 -2
    12  South Korea South Korea 484.6 +2
    11  Uruguay Uruguay 486.8 +2

    Analysis

    The big climber in this group and the top 30 is Colombia, who have been on an absolute tear in South America.

    The Colombians are still held back a bit by their previous record, but they are certainly on the up.

    As for the rest of this group, a few poor results have dictated all of the movement.

    Japan and Mexico, who have both had some subpar results over the past few months, dropped points and fell behind some other teams.

    Because of this, a very out-of-form Uruguayan side has climbed all the way up to 11th, almost entirely on the merit of their fine record from 2009-2011 (semifinalists at the 2010 World Cup and 2011 Copa America champions).

10. Russia

10 of 19

    Points out of 1000: 499.0

    Despite the fact that their group contains Portugal, Russia have been dominant in Group F so far and look set to make it to Brazil.

    Russia's ranking is a testament to how well they have been playing over the past few months.

    After all, the team has been disappointing over the past four years, losing out on a bid for the 2010 World Cup and somehow getting eliminated in their Euro 2012 group.

9. Croatia

11 of 19

    Points out of 1000: 501.5

    Croatia has had trouble reaching their potential over the past four years.

    Their talented side missed out on the 2010 World Cup and were eliminated in the group stage of Euro 2012 (though they were in the same group as the two finalists).

    Can Croatia turn this pattern around and make it to and excel in Brazil?

8. England

12 of 19

    Points out of 1000: 528.5

    For as much as fans of England are dissatisfied with their team and their style, they are a model of consistency.

    The team has made it to major tournament after major tournament, making it through the group in most of them.

    However, the English are in some trouble in their World Cup qualifying group, trailing Montenegro with Poland and Ukraine hot on their heels.

7. Italy

13 of 19

    Points out of 1000: 534.1

    After a poor campaign at the 2010 World Cup, Italy responded with a great Euro 2012 that saw them get to the final.

    The Italians' good performances in qualifying campaigns has them as definite sleepers for the World Cup in Brazil.

6. Portugal

14 of 19

    Points out of 1000: 534.5

    Portugal have been quite good at major tournaments, only having been eliminated by a historic Spanish side over the past four years. In fact, they almost took Spain down at Euro 2012, only going out on penalties.

    However, the Portuguese have been awful in qualifying, getting through to each tournament in playoffs.

    This doesn't look like it's going to change soon, as they are in trouble in qualifying for the 2014 World Cup.

    As a result, the Portuguese are losing ground quickly and could be passed by Italy very soon.

5. Argentina

15 of 19

    Points out of 1000: 540.4

    Argentina has been good over the past year, racking up numerous wins in friendlies and dominating South American World Cup qualifying.

    However, the Argentinians are held back by their poor record at major tournaments over the past four years.

    A 4-0 destruction at the hands of Germany in the 2010 World Cup quarterfinals and another quarterfinal finish in a Copa America they hosted are tough pills to swallow for a team that has such great talent.

4. Netherlands

16 of 19

    Points out of 1000: 568.3

    Holland's team has had an interesting four years.

    The Dutch came so close to finally breaking through at a World Cup, yet fell in extra time of the final to one of the best international teams in history.

    Just two years later, the Netherlands lost every match at Euro 2012.

    The side is stacked with talent and has dominated qualifying whenever they could.

    However, it is worth questioning what Netherlands will show up in Brazil.

3. Brazil

17 of 19

    Points out of 1000: 571.5

    Brazil is absolutely rife with talent, but they have continually come up short on the big stages over the past decade.

    As the Brazilians are already qualified for the 2014 World Cup as hosts, they are hoping to turn these poor results around on home soil.

2. Germany

18 of 19

    Points out of 1000: 602.2

    Has the German revolution begun?

    The Bundesliga took over the Champions League this year, with Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund both making it to the final.

    Further, the huge talent at the national team has them gaining ground toward No. 1.

    Germany will be looking toward the final stages of the World Cup in Brazil, hoping for their team to come through this time and come good on all their promise.

1. Spain

19 of 19

    Points out of 1000: 648.9

    There is absolutely no doubt at No. 1.

    Spain holds both the World Cup and Euro trophies, riding their beautiful brand of football to each of the past three major trophies.

    Yes, they have had a few losses along the way, but this Spanish side has to go down as one of the best in the history of the game.

    How long can they keep this amazing run going?