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FIFA World Rankings: Updated 2014 Standings Leading into Brazil World Cup

FILE - In this Oct. 15, 2013 file photo, Brazil soccer team poses prior to the start their  international friendly soccer match against Zambia at the Bird's Nest national stadium in Beijing, China. Background from left: Diego Cavalier, Paulinho, Ramires, Lucas, Anderson Dede, and David Luiz. Foreground from left: Neymar, Dani Alves, Alexandre Pato, Lucas Moura and Maxwell.  (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan, File)
Ng Han Guan/Associated Press
Rob BlanchetteFeatured ColumnistMay 8, 2014

With World Cup fever about to grip the planet, FIFA has updated its current standings going into the tournament. 

A total of 143 teams have retained their April ranking but the biggest movement has come in the top 10.

World Cup hosts Brazil are now the highest-placed South American team in world football. The Selecao have climbed up two places to fourth in the list, as Colombia and Uruguay slip down to fifth and sixth respectively.

It is Brazil's best position in the FIFA rankings since July 2011, per FIFA.com.

Here is a list of the new top 20 for May 2014:

FIFA World Rankings: May 8, 2014
PositionNationPlaces MovedPoints
1.Spain01460
2.Germany01340
3.Portugal01245
4.BrazilUp 21210
5.ColombiaDown 11186
6.UruguayDown 11181
7.ArgentinaDown 11178
8.Switzerland01161
9.Italy01115
10.Greece01082
11.England01043
12.Belgium01039
13.ChileUp 11037
14.USADown 11015
15.Netherlands0967
16.France0935
17.Ukraine0913
18.Russia0903
19.Mexico0877
20.Croatia0871
Fifa.com

Spain are still ranked as the best national side on the planet, leading Germany by 120 points at the summit of the table.

Vicente del Bosque's team have now been at the top of the points ranking system since September 2011, and are very much one of the core favourites to retain their World Cup crown that they captured in South Africa in 2010. 

Cristiano Ronaldo's Portugal team remains in the third spot to ensure Europe's dominance of the top positions.

You can review how FIFA calculate their points system by clicking here.

STOCKHOLM, SWEDEN - FEBRUARY 06:  Lionel Messi of Argentina in action during the International Friendly match between Sweden and Argentina at the Friends Arena on February 6, 2013 in Stockholm, Sweden.  (Photo by Jamie McDonald/Getty Images)
Jamie McDonald/Getty Images

Other movement in the top part of the table sees Lionel Messi's Argentina fall one place to seventh, on 1,178 points, only marginally above Switzerland on 1,161 points.

The 2006 world champions Italy hold their place in the top 10, currently in ninth position, but there is no place at the elite end of the table for England, Netherlands or France, who sit 11th, 15th and 16th respectively. 

And the small might of Honduras returns to the top 30 of the World Rankings after a 12-year absence. The little nation are placed 30th, moving up two spots.

Mauritania are the biggest movers in the table in May. They have jumped 13 places to be placed at 139th position.

There was also a notable leap by Tajikistan, who have climbed an impressive 12 places, up to 121th on 229 points.

Afghanistan are the biggest fallers of the month, slipping down six rungs to 128th place.

This will be one of the most open World Cups in living memory with a number of nations having a genuine chance of winning the famous trophy. Despite their lofty ranking and position in the table, Brazil will be heavily chased by their fellow South American rivals to score the victory on continental home soil.

Felipe Dana/Associated Press

Brazil manager Luiz Felipe Scolari named his 23-man squad on Wednesday for the finals, with the notable omissions of Kaka and Robinho. Chelsea's Oscar was named in the squad by Scolari, despite concerns about the player's form and fitness from Jose Mourinho.

When asked about the player and Mourinho's opinion, Scolari said, per Joe Callaghan of the Mail Online:

No it doesn't concern me at all. Oscar is one of the best players we have in the world, regardless of any comments from any coach. He may have some physical issues. Through the physical exams we have at the start we'll be sure to get them right. I have no worries about Paulinho, Oscar.

Fernando Llano/Associated Press

Uruguay will fancy their chances led by the brilliance of Liverpool's Luis Suarez. His form this season, and his potential partnership with Paris Saint-Germain's Edinson Cavani, means that the very first winners of the World Cup could go all the way and win the trophy for the first time since 1950.

Europe's strength at the tournament is undoubted, and despite their conservative position in FIFA's table both Netherlands and France will feel they have the quality to challenge. 

Louis van Gaal will be looking for the perfect end to his tenure as manager after four years at the Netherlands helm, as he leaves to possibly take up the post of Manchester United's new head coach. 

His Dutch team has all the quality they need to beat any opponent they face this summer. Arjen Robben and Robin van Persie will be key for Van Gaal, although history suggests European nations will struggle with the South American climate.

The next FIFA World Ranking will be published on June 5, 2014.

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