Heading into a World Cup you would hope FIFA could nail their world rankings. But alas, no. Once again I just can't get myself to agree with their rankings. In fact, there continue to be some real head-scratchers.
Brazil has taken over the top spot from Spain, and I suppose that's fine. It's apples to oranges, I suppose. Hard to compare the two right now. They are, without a doubt, the best two teams heading into the world tournament in South Africa.
It's after the top two where things get a bit, well, mind boggling. How Portugal is considered the third best team in the world is beyond me. What have they done to climb the rankings so? Much disappointment over the last few years and all they do is move higher and higher. And Argentina, a team that barely got out of qualification, is somehow ranked seventh?
To me FIFA puts way too much credence in history and not enough in "What have you done for me lately?"
I'll keep my analysis to FIFA's top 20. On the left is the actual rankings of FIFA, and on the right what I think is a better judge today, one month before the World Cup starts, of where the teams actually are.
FIFA Rankings to the left of the country name, and my rankings in (parentheses) to the right side.
1. Brazil (1) Same
2. Spain (2) Same
3. Portugal (7) -4
4. Netherlands (3) +1
5. Italy (5) Same
6. Germany (4) +2
7. Argentina (13) -6
8. England (6) +2
9. Croatia (11) -2
10. France (8) +2
11. Russia (10) +1
12. Greece (15) -3
13. Egypt (19) -6
14. United States (9) +5
15. Chile (18) -3
16. Serbia (16) Same
17. Mexico (14) +3
18. Uruguay (22) -4
19. Cameroon (23) -4
20. Australia (17) +3
Two teams not in the FIFA World Rankings Top 20 are in mine. They are:
23. Slovenia (20) +3
27. Ivory Coast (12) +15
The teams with the biggest jumps in my rankings compared to FIFA’s are The Ivory Coast, up 15 spots; The United States, up five spots; and Australia, Slovenia, and Mexico, all up three spots.
The countries dropping in my rankings the most are Argentina and Egypt, both dropping six spots; Cameroon, Uruguay, and Portugal dropping four spots; and Chile and Greece both dropping three spots.
There obviously tends to be a European bias to the FIFA rankings. I think The Ivory Coast and the United States are both highly underrated, strong clubs. Ivory Coast has the unfortunate draw of getting put in this year’s group of death. They are in Group G with Brazil and Portugal.
They will have trouble getting out of that group, but if they do, watch out. The Americans have a pretty good draw with England, although Slovenia seems to be improving and moving up the world rankings. They could battle England and the U.S. for one of those two spots.
The teams I think are way too highly ranked are Argentina and Egypt. Argentina’s troubles are not a secret, and the fact they had such difficulty getting into the World Cup should not give them some kind of high fortitude special rankings.
They do not deserve to be in the top 10, but this ranking has given them a very favorable group. They have Greece (also overrated), Nigeria, and the Korea Republic. This should be Group O for overrated. Because of the weak group, Argentina should make it out fine.
The rankings mean little at this point. They mean a lot before the groups are announced, but afterward they are nothing but bragging points. Four years ago the U.S. was ranked fifth going into the World Cup, and I thought this was insane. It was way too high. This year they are ranked way too low at No. 14. So maybe that bodes well for the red, white, and blue.
One thing’s for sure. The games will be played on the pitch, not in the offices of FIFA headquarters.
Let the games begin, and may the best team win.