FIFA World Rankings 2013: Updated Outlook and World Cup Seeds

Timothy RappFeatured ColumnistOctober 17, 2013

BEIJING, CHINA - OCTOBER 15: Neymar of Brazil in action during the international friendly match between Brazil and Zambia at Beijing National Stadium on October 15, 2013 in Beijing, China. (Photo by Lintao Zhang/Getty Images)
Lintao Zhang/Getty Images

The picture continues to become clearer.

With only continental and intercontinental playoffs remaining in World Cup qualifying, 21 teams have already booked their trip to Brazil in 2014, while a few teams (Uruguay, Mexico and Ghana) seem all but assured of advancing. 

With the latest FIFA rankings announced, we now know who the seeded teams will be for the 2014 tournament. Let's take a comprehensive look at how the World Cup landscape looks with just playoff games remaining. 

 

Rankings

Top 30 in FIFA Rankings as of October 17
RankTeam
1Spain
2Germany
3Argentina
4Colombia
5Belgium
6Uruguay
7Switzerland
8Netherlands
9Italy
10England
11Brazil
12Chile
13United States
14Portugal
15Greece
16Bosnia-Herzegovina
17Ivory Coast
18Croatia
19Russia
20Ukraine
21France
22Ecuador
23Ghana
24Mexico
25Sweden
26Denmark
27Czech Republic
28Serbia
29Romania
30Slovenia
http://www.fifa.com/worldranking/rankingtable/index.html

  

World Cup 2014 Seeded Teams

PALMA DE MALLORCA, SPAIN - OCTOBER 11:  Xavi Hernandez of Spain looks on during the FIFA 2014 World Cup Qualifier match between Spain and Belarus at Iberostars Stadium on October 11, 2013 in Palma de Mallorca, Spain.  (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)
David Ramos/Getty Images

As per The TelegraphBrazil, Spain, Germany, Argentina, Colombia, Belgium, Switzerland and Uruguay (note that Uruguay still has to beat Jordan in a playoff to reach the World Cup. Should they to fail to do so, the Netherlands would become a seeded team).

 

Current World Cup 2014 Unseeded Teams

Japan, Australia, South Korea, Iran, Netherlands, England, Italy, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Russia, Costa Rica, United States, Honduras, Chile, Ecuador.

 

European Playoff Seedings

Seeded teams: Portugal, Greece, Croatia, Ukraine

Unseeded teams: France, Sweden, Romania, Iceland 

 

African Playoffs

YOKOHAMA, JAPAN - SEPTEMBER 10:  Team Ghana poses for a photo before the international friendly match between Japan and Ghana at International Stadium Yokohama on September 10, 2013 in Yokohama, Japan.  (Photo by Adam Pretty/Getty Images)
Adam Pretty/Getty Images

Ghana lead Egypt, 6-1

Burkina Faso lead Algeria, 3-2

Ivory Coast lead Senegal, 3-1

Nigeria lead Ethiopia, 2-1

Tunisia and Cameroon level, 0-0

 

Other Playoffs

Uruguay vs. Jordan

Mexico vs. New Zealand

 

Analysis

BERN, SWITZERLAND - OCTOBER 15:  Reto Ziegler, Philippe Senderos, Haris Seferovic, Xhaka Granit, Johannes Djourou, Yann Sommer, Gokhan Inler, Admir Mehmedi, Michael Lang, Blerim Dzemaili and Tranquillo Barnetta of Switzerland pose for the Switzerland team
Harold Cunningham/Getty Images

Yes, Switzerland are currently ranked the No. 7 team in the world. If ever there was a time to brush up on how the FIFA ranking points are tallied, now would be it. 

But it's a good bet Switzerland have skyrocketed up the rankings due to their play in World Cup qualification, where they remained unbeaten, winning seven games and drawing three. Switzerland deserve credit for handling their business, but they did so in a group composed of Iceland, Slovenia, Norway, Albania and Cyprus. 

The only other team in that group ranked in the top 30 is Slovenia, at No. 30. Seeing as Europe has 19 of the top 30 teams in the rankings, it's safe to say Switzerland used a pretty easy group to jump right into a seeded spot at the 2014 World Cup.

Meanwhile, France aren't even a seeded team in the playoff round. Something about this scenario just seems a bit backwards, no? 

It seems a safe bet that Uruguay will win their playoff and mark their place as a seeded team in the World Cup, while Mexico are almost assuredly heading to Brazil as well. In Africa, Ghana and the Ivory Coast seem like locks to advance.

There aren't too many surprises in the seeded ranks, outside of the Netherlands and Italy not making the cut. Brazil are an automatic qualifier as the host, while Spain, Argentina, Germany and Colombia aren't surprises.

One team that may surprise a few folks, however, and will surely turn heads in Brazil is Belgium. This young Belgian side are loaded with talent and could really make some noise this summer.

BRUSSELS, BELGIUM - OCTOBER 15:  Eden Hazard of Belgium thanks the fans after the FIFA 2014 World Cup Qualifying Group A match between Belgium and Wales at King Baudouin Stadium on October 15, 2013 in Brussels, Belgium.  (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Gett
Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images

Just look at some of the players projected to be on this roster—Eden Hazard, Vincent Kompany, Christian Benteke, Kevin Mirallas, Marouane Fellaini, Romelu Lukaku, Jan Vertonghen, Dries Mertens, Thomas Vermaelen, Moussa Dembele, Axel Witsel, Kevin De Bruyne, Thibaut Courtois and Simon Mignolet.

That's a stacked core. 

It's important to remember that after the seeded teams, the remainder of the tournament is broken down geographically where possible. From ESPN:

Only the top pot is seeded for the December 6 draw in Bahia, with the remaining pools based purely on a geographical basis to ensure a spread of nations in each group.

There can be no more than one team from each confederation in each group, with the exception of Europe which will have two nations in four or five groups.

If Uruguay win their play-off, then the geographical draw pots will likely be similar to that of 2006. One pot may contain eight European nations, another should have the four Asian countries and four from CONCACAF (or New Zealand), with a final pot of Chile, Ecuador and the five African qualifiers.

That would leave a separate pot for the lowest-ranked UEFA side, who would be drawn against a non-European team from the seeded pot—Brazil, Argentina, Colombia or possibly Uruguay, to ensure no more than two European teams are in one group.

Whew—got all that?

In other words, it remains pretty impossible to know what the United States' draw will look like, beyond the fact that the USMNT will definitely face one European squad (possibly two), more than likely a South American side and possibly an African side.

 

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