England currently sit in 13th place in the official FIFA World Rankings. Their counterparts in the group stages of the upcoming World Cup, Belgium, are currently third. Whilst the FIFA Rankings is accused by many of being inaccurate and misinterpreted, few could argue with the depth of quality players many nations have at their disposal ahead of this summer’s much anticipated tournament.
FIFA rankings foster skepticism
The FIFA World Rankings is disregarded by the majority of footballing fans, especially when they come to realise that Switzerland edge ahead of major favourites for the finals, France.
The formula to determine the rankings correlates directly from results in all international matches. Match results, as well as the ‘Importance of match’, ‘Strength of opposition’ and ‘Strength of confederation’ are all taken into account to determine just how good an international team are relative to the rest of the world.
World Cup includes best and worst
It is not surprising that Germany lead the way according to FIFA’s rankings, and that not too far behind in second is Brazil. But it may indeed come as a surprise that Poland, Peru and Denmark are all above England in the same rankings. Or that despite not having earned a spot in the upcoming World Cup, Chile have maintained a top 10, four places above England in 9th. Further, the Netherlands and Italy are also among those teams which, according to FIFA, should be on the way to Russia.
The worst ranked team in the World Cup are Saudi Arabia. Placed 67th, the surprise World Cup entrants are just one place below the host nation (Russia) who are the second worst side in the competition. The two just so happen to be part of the opening match of the World Cup; it is one you certainly will not want to miss.
Three Lions should also probably ignore the FIFA rankings
It will perhaps come as a shock to many that Tunisia, who will open England’s World Cup campaign on June 18th, sit just one place behind Gareth Southgate’s side. England’s opponents should not be underestimated by any means. Going into the tournament, Tunisia have earned more international points than the likes of Colombia, Uruguay and Croatia. Their side has earned their ranking after emerging unbeaten in their last seven matches: winning five and drawing two.
According to the FIFA standings, Panama are the worst side in England’s group by a long way. They are titled the third weakest team in the tournament and ranked 55th.
In the World Cup qualifiers, some nations made a considerable surge upwards. Iran, Egypt, Nigeria, and Senegal could be the teams to watch as they absorb confidence from their unlikely, but much anticipated inclusion at the finals.