# Ranking Every National Team in the World Ahead of the World Cup

Frank WagnerCorrespondent IJune 1, 2014

## Ranking Every National Team in the World Ahead of the World Cup

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Natacha Pisarenko/Associated Press

With less than two weeks to go until the first ball is kicked at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, interest in international football is reaching its quadrennial peak.

For many casual fans of the beautiful game, the events of the past four years since Spain's victory in Soccer City may have gone virtually unnoticed.

As a result, they may not know what to expect of their favorite national teams heading into the world's most famous sporting event.

There is no better time, then, to update the Wagner World Rankings and order national teams based on their performances over the past four years.

So sit back and enjoy these rankings of every national team in the world.

## Methodology

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Antonio Calanni/Associated Press

For those of you who are new to these rankings and this system, let's break down the mathematical process that goes into it.

To begin with, every match from the last four years is assigned a value based on its importance. For example, the World Cup final is given much more weight than a random friendly.

The four-year window seems to be the perfect amount of time—a shorter period gives too small a sample size and a larger one would likely represent a different side.

After every match is given a value and compiled, each team is assigned a score for every match based on four factors:

• The result of the match
• Whether the match was home, away or at a neutral venue
• How strong the opposition was
• How recently the match was played

Finally, factoring in any matches a team missed out on (i.e. matches at World Cups they didn't qualify for) and giving every continental tournament a new weight produces a score out of 1,000 points.

Every team is then ranked based on these points.

One should note that this does not produce a ranking based on form alone.

As a result, many teams may seem higher or lower in the rankings than one might expect because of drastic changes in form over relatively short periods of time.

For example, performing well over a year may push a team up the table quickly, but relatively awful performances over the three years prior could hold the team back.

Hence, it allows a ranking that factors in both form and consistency, a quality that is highly undervalued.

So, without further ado, here are the latest rankings.

## 210-181

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Francisco Seco/Associated Press
 Ranking Nation Points out of 1000 210 San Marino 0 210 Bhutan 0 210 Turks and Caicos Islands 0 207 Cook Islands 0.031 206 Tonga 0.048 205 American Samoa 0.051 204 Papua New Guinea 0.070 203 Samoa 0.096 202 Montserrat 0.183 201 Anguilla 0.229 200 Fiji 0.325 199 Vanuatu 0.352 198 Brunei 0.361 197 British Virgin Islands 0.378 196 Macau 0.465 195 Djibouti 0.498 194 Cayman Islands 0.650 193 Timor-Leste 0.671 192 South Sudan 0.743 191 Bahamas 0.756 190 Mongolia 0.826 189 Eritrea 1.005 188 US Virgin Islands 1.046 187 Somalia 1.182 186 Sri Lanka 1.619 185 Cambodia 1.918 184 Aruba 1.960 183 Bermuda 2.054 182 Guam 2.734 181 Gibraltar 2.935

Analysis

The most notable team in this group is Gibraltar, who make their first entry into these rankings.

With their entry into qualifying for the 2016 UEFA European Championships starting in September, the nation could no longer be ignored.

What's more, draws with Slovakia and Estonia, two teams that are by no means the weakest in Europe, already have Gibraltar racing up the table.

One other team to take note of is South Sudan, as this relatively new country also has the potential to move up the table quickly.

## 180-151

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Eugenio Savio/Associated Press
 Ranking Nation Points out of 1000 180 Kyrgyzstan 2.902 179 Comoros 2.996 178 Solomon Islands 3.026 177 Sao Tome e Principe 3.195 176 Barbados 3.643 175 Dominica 3.685 174 Seychelles 4.154 173 Mauritius 4.402 172 Nicaragua 4.412 171 Curacao 4.459 170 Madagascar 4.593 169 Bangladesh 5.384 168 Guinea-Bissau 5.517 167 Yemen 6.525 166 Chad 7.447 165 Laos 7.932 164 Swaziland 8.757 163 Puerto Rica 9.157 162 St Lucia 9.233 161 Mauritania 10.451 160 The Gambia 11.741 159 Belize 12.681 158 Chinese Taipei 12.942 157 Andorra 12.990 156 Tahiti 12.998 155 New Caledonia 15.902 154 Pakistan 19.411 153 Turkmenistan 20.294 152 Faroe Islands 23.595 151 St Kitts and Nevis 24.092

Analysis

Rarely will one find a continental champion this low in the rankings, but Tahiti is a rare team.

Since winning the 2012 OFC Nations Cup over New Caledonia, who themselves had shockingly eliminated juggernauts New Zealand, Tahiti has done very little.

The minnows may have put on a spirited display at the Confederations Cup (while losing every match), but they put up very little resistance in regional World Cup qualifying.

## 150-121

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John Cowpland/Associated Press
 Ranking Nation Points out of 1000 150 Hong Kong 24.137 149 Myanmar 24.204 148 Maldives 26.363 147 Suriname 26.806 146 Nepal 27.481 145 Grenada 28.133 144 Afghanistan 28.463 143 Central African Republic 29.655 142 New Zealand 34.554 141 Benin 34.734 140 Vietnam 35.314 139 Liechtenstein 35.647 138 Syria 35.821 137 St Vincent and the Grenadines 37.117 136 Dominican Republic 38.639 135 Palestine 38.800 134 Tajikistan 40.512 133 Malaysia 41.985 132 India 42.488 131 Haiti 46.787 130 Cuba 50.006 129 Cyprus 50.876 128 Indonesia 52.220 127 Guyana 52.702 126 Equatorial Guinea 53.257 125 Singapore 56.147 124 Philippines 56.768 123 Antigua and Barbuda 60.632 122 Thailand 61.139 121 Trinidad and Tobago 62.230

Analysis

One team that might surprise at this low level is New Zealand, who have fallen quite a long way since the last update of these rankings.

To understand this ranking, one need only look at the team's past two years of results, where they failed to win the OFC Nations Cup in a weak confederation and were pounded by a struggling Mexican side in the World Cup's intercontinental playoffs.

Meanwhile, other teams in this group sit with great potential to rise up the table, such as Haiti and Trinidad and Tobago, but without the results to back up their potential.

## 120-91

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Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press
 Ranking Nation Points out of 1000 120 North Korea 73.274 119 Saudi Arabia 85.384 118 Bahrain 89.238 117 United Arab Emirates 89.297 116 Lesotho 89.928 115 China 92.189 114 Burundi 92.401 113 Guatemala 97.648 112 El Salvador 99.545 111 Canada 100.324 110 Malta 100.509 109 Northern Ireland 104.555 108 Luxembourg 109.066 107 Liberia 117.371 106 Lebanon 119.544 105 Kuwait 120.439 104 Rwanda 127.829 103 Sierra Leone 131.462 102 Republic of the Congo 133.073 101 Namibia 134.897 100 Niger 155.853 99 Mozambique 156.677 98 Tanzania 157.711 97 Kazakhstan 159.335 96 Guinea 161.152 95 Malawi 166.605 94 Botswana 170.200 93 Oman 171.841 92 Zimbabwe 172.181 91 Gabon 173.054

Analysis

Four years after adding some peculiar intrigue to the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, North Korea have dropped quite a bit.

After getting eliminated from World Cup qualifying early, the North Koreans' friendly form has dropped—something they have hung their hat on in recent years.

Meanwhile, there are many African nations sprinkled in this group, all of which have struggled through their numerous qualifying campaigns over the past four years.

Perhaps the most intriguing nations in this group, though, are Canada and El Salvador.

With a good string of results, those two could easily burst into the top 100 and even higher in the next few months.

## 90-61

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Armando Franca/Associated Press
 Ranking Nation Points out of 1000 90 Kenya 174.156 89 Sudan 187.485 88 Togo 190.027 87 Jamaica 190.265 86 Qatar 197.811 85 Cabo Verde 198.548 84 Libya 207.228 83 Senegal 211.077 82 DR Congo 214.487 81 Uganda 219.724 80 Egypt 223.519 79 Angola 225.656 78 Iraq 231.996 77 Cameroon 236.656 76 Ethiopia 241.886 75 Morocco 260.335 74 Jordan 262.242 73 South Africa 267.787 72 Uzbekistan 280.468 71 Latvia 285.778 70 Macedonia 288.312 69 Tunisia 288.931 68 Mali 291.284 67 Lithuania 293.064 66 Estonia 293.481 65 Moldova 295.223 64 Wales 299.074 63 Azerbaijan 300.162 62 Panama 306.302 61 Zambia 306.427

Analysis

One look at this group of nations raises one obvious question: How are Cameroon, a team going to the World Cup, ranked so low?

Looking at Cameroon's past four years provides the answer to that question.

The Africans have been wildly inconsistent and unstable, losing staples like Benoit Assou-Ekotto and Samuel Eto'o,who have since returned.

After failing to qualify for either of the past two Africa Cup of Nations tournaments, Cameroon progressed out of their qualifying group for Brazil in large part thanks to a forfeit by Togo.

Looking at the rest of the teams in this group, Mali have the chance to rise quickly, as their third-place finishes in each of the past two Africa Cup of Nations have been overshadowed by a disappointing World Cup qualifying campaign and a bad run of friendlies.

A few good friendlies should push them back into the top 40.

## 60-31

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SCOTT HEPPELL/Associated Press
 Ranking Nation Points out of 1000 60 Georgia 306.427 59 Algeria 309.194 58 Bolivia 312.339 57 Albania 312.791 56 Iceland 315.938 55 Bulgaria 316.293 54 Belarus 326.659 53 Montenegro 333.111 52 Israel 334.604 51 Norway 338.991 50 Armenia 343.187 49 Finland 343.726 48 Scotland 344.895 47 Burkina Faso 347.112 46 Slovenia 354.774 45 Slovakia 359.428 44 Iran 361.070 43 Honduras 364.940 42 Austria 368.328 41 Hungary 371.515 40 Peru 374.303 39 Serbia 374.406 38 Poland 378.641 37 Venezuela 380.118 36 Costa Rica 391.615 35 Turkey 391.979 34 Rep Ireland 396.667 33 Paraguay 397.937 32 Romania 402.376 31 South Korea 405.075

Analysis

This group of 30 teams offers up five more nations bound for Brazil, with Algeria pulling up the rear.

Just like Cameroon, Algeria's inconsistencies have them as underdogs heading into the World Cup.

Meanwhile, the 50s are filled with young, up-and-coming European nations who could pose a threat at Euro 2016, despite failing to qualify for the World Cup.

The big anomaly of the group is Paraguay, who are still living off of their good performances in South Africa and the Copa America.

I expected them to drop like a stone after finishing dead last in CONMEBOL's qualification group for Brazil, but it seems like they will hang on to a decent ranking until after the World Cup.

Once that passes, though, don't be surprised if the Paraguayans are suddenly dead last among the South American nations.

## 30-21

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Jend Dresling/Associated Press
 Rank Nation Score out of 1000 30 Denmark 413.925 29 Czech Republic 414.451 28 Ukraine 432.212 27 Nigeria 445.662 26 Ivory Coast 447.704 25 Sweden 447.874 24 Australia 449.635 23 Japan 450.787 22 Ghana 454.693 21 Ecuador 464.562

Analysis

Even though these spots would logically be saved for the teams that qualified for the World Cup, four European nations that just missed out burst through.

The highest ranked such team, Sweden, will probably be the most missed team in Brazil; Zlatan Ibrahimovic's side fell short in a playoff against Portugal due solely to Cristiano Ronaldo's brilliance.

What may be the most debated ranking of these 10 is how low Ecuador came, as they are a popular sleeper pick to make a quarterfinal run in Brazil this month.

However, Ecuador haven't won a competitive match outside of Ecuador since a World Cup qualifier in Bolivia...in 2009.

## 20-11

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Darko Bandic/Associated Press
 Rank Nation Points out of 1000 20 Mexico 465.560 19 Switzerland 471.879 18 Bosnia-Herzegovina 472.754 17 USA 478.537 16 Croatia 484.150 15 Chile 485.097 14 Belgium 490.267 13 Greece 491.134 12 France 494.100 11 Colombia 508.856

Analysis

Finally, a group of all teams headed for Brazil.

While Mexico have been much-maligned since their atrocious qualifying campaign, many may have missed that they have gone seven matches unbeaten. Of course, questions still linger over which Mexican team will show up and whether they will be good enough to get through their difficult group.

Switzerland may have a good chance of getting through their group in Brazil, but their terrible Euro 2012 qualifying campaign combined with the relative ease of their World Cup qualifying group are holding them back from going even further up this table.

Bosnia and Herzegovina, Belgium and Colombia have all moved swiftly up the rankings thanks to their great runs over the past year or two.

Greece's ability to consistently qualify for major tournaments and sometimes sneak out of groups have them ranked much higher than one might think.

The USA, a side who are being written off by so many heading into Brazil, are less than a year removed from a fantastic run that saw them win 12 consecutive matches.

Finally, Chile's ranking is a product of their streaky nature. While the South Americans seem to be the popular pick to come through their group after a decent run of form, this is the same squad that went on a five-match losing streak less than two years ago.

## 10. Russia

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Armando Franca/Associated Press
 Rank Nation Point out of 1000 10 Russia 518.491

Analysis

They may be one of the clear favorites to come through their group in Brazil, but that has not been good news for Russia in the recent past.

Still, the Russians have been really impressive over the past few years, beating Portugal to the automatic qualifying spot and losing just three matches since February 2011.

Watch out for Russia this month.

## 9. England

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Matt Dunham/Associated Press
 Rank Nation Score out of 1000 9 England 533.875

Analysis

England are not a popular pick for a deep run in this year's World Cup, but the Three Lions have been so consistent over the past few years.

Plus, with some young talent injecting speed into the side, England fans have a reason to dream heading into the tough test thrown up by their group.

## 8. Portugal

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Francisco Seco/Associated Press
 Rank Nation Points out of 1000 8 Portugal 534.234

Analysis

Heading into each of the past few major tournaments, Portugal have been taken lightly because of their poor runs in qualifying.

Each time, though, Portugal has risen above and gotten through their group.

One should write off the Portuguese at their own risk. After all, with the likes of Joao Moutinho, Nani and Fabio Coentrao, this side is more than just the genius of Cristiano Ronaldo.

## 7. Uruguay

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Alberto Tao/Associated Press
 Rank Nation Points out of 1000 7 Uruguay 536.455

Analysis

After finishing fourth in the 2010 World Cup and winning the 2011 Copa America, Uruguay seem like a natural pick for a deep run in Brazil.

However, the South Americans' hopes hinge on the health of their main striker, Luis Suarez, with his knee surgery casting a doubt over their whole campaign.

If Suarez plays, will he be 100 percent? If not, can Edinson Cavani and Diego Forlan step up in his stead?

Lots of questions are left with this Uruguay squad, but they still have the potential to make a great run this month.

## 6. Italy

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Fabrizio Giovannozzi/Associated Press
 Rank Nation Points out of 1000 6 Italy 539.736

Analysis

Four years on from being eliminated in the group stage of a World Cup, Italy have regrouped well.

The Azzurri played very well at Euro 2012, going out to Spain in the final, and they almost knocked off Spain in the Confederations Cup a year later.

Now, Italy have their eyes set on an unlikely run at their fifth World Cup trophy.

One thing's for certain, with Mario Balotelli, Andrea Pirlo and Gianluigi Buffon at their disposal, Italy will like their chances in a penalty shootout with anyone.

## 5. Netherlands

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Peter Dejong/Associated Press
 Rank Nation Points out of 1000 5 Netherlands 555.439

Analysis

With how much the Dutch have fallen out of the public favor over the past few years, it may be surprising to see them this high in the rankings. After all, they went out in Euro 2012 without picking up so much as a point.

However, Netherlands are still reigning World Cup runner-up and have dominated major tournament qualifying campaigns over the past four years.

In fact, since the debacle of 2012, the Dutch have just lost once—in a friendly to France.

Rafael van der Vaart is a loss, but don't be surprised if Netherlands are back in the knockout stages this World Cup around.

## 4. Argentina

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Natacha Pisarenko/Associated Press
 Rank Nation Points out of 1000 4 Argentina 560.000

Analysis

After more than a few underwhelming major tournament performances in a row, everyone wants to see Lionel Messi and Argentina rise up and challenge in Brazil this month.

With the group these South Americans have been handed, there's a good chance we will be seeing them in the knockout stages. However, it's there where the questions lie.

Can the Argentinians break through the quarterfinals once more? Will Messi finally reach the heights he has with Barcelona while playing for his nation?

## 3. Brazil

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Hassan Ammar/Associated Press
 Rank Nation Points out of 1000 3 Brazil 594.747

Analysis

Don't let this ranking deceive you: Brazil are the favorites to win the World Cup in their own backyard.

This young side came into their own at the Confederations Cup last summer, and they should be a force to reckoned with when they're being cheered on by a raucous crowd.

What this ranking reflects, though, is how inconsistent the Brazilians have been over the past four years.

After all, they were taken out in the quarters of the 2010 World Cup by Netherlands and of the 2011 Copa America by Paraguay while losing friendlies to the likes of England, Mexico and Switzerland.

It wouldn't be shocking if the Brazilians win the whole thing in July, but one should expect this squad to make it dramatic either way.

## 2. Germany

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Alex Livesey/Getty Images
 Rank Nation Points out of 1000 2 Germany 609.670

Analysis

After a disappointing end to Bayern Munich's Champions League campaign and a disastrous World Cup camp, expectations have been tempered in Germany for their national team heading into the 2014 World Cup.

Maybe that's just what the Germans need.

After two consecutive major tournaments in a row in which they faltered in the semifinals, Germany have the talent to go all the way this time.

The only trouble is, they had the talent to get over that final hurdle in the past, too.

Can a bit of bad luck help relieve the stress when the pressure inevitably mounts on this German side this time around?

If so, expect them to be holding the trophy in July.

## 1. Spain

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Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images
 Rank Nation Points out of 1000 1 Spain 646.462

Analysis

Spain are the reigning World Cup and two-time Euro champions.

While that's already historic enough, the question over this side is whether they can pull off one more historic run to cement their legacy at the top of international football or if Father Time has finally caught up with them.

Either way, Spain has earned the right to be considered number one until someone finally knocks them off their perch.

## Conclusion

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Sidali Djarboub/Associated Press

So there it is, every international football nation ranked.

One more disclaimer: One should keep in mind that the order of this ranking is not necessarily a prediction for how the teams will end up finishing, but merely a reflection of how well each team is currently playing and how good their results have been over the past four years.

I hope you enjoyed them, but either way please give me feedback in the comments below. I do take suggestions and want to know if you think a team is not in the right spot. Most of the time, that's how these rankings get better.