Thanassis Stavrakis/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.
What's more, some obvious issues come into play with this round of rankings, what with some teams heading into the knockout stages. While these teams do get a bit of a boost, it's not as much as they will get when they actually finish the tournament.
Plus, the knockout stages from the 2010 World Cup still happened within the past four years and are therefore included in these rankings, helping some teams that are already heading home from Brazil. In the next few weeks, that factor will disappear and truly impact upon them.
Thus, one should not look at these rankings as a tool for predicting the results of the knockout stages, but rather a measure of the class each side has shown over their most recent cycle.
So, without further ado, here are the latest rankings.