With the close of the 2014 World Cup comes the ending of the biggest International Soccer competition until Russia in 2018. This tournament caused the biggest movement of FIFA’s rankings until the next major tournament, so these rankings should be relatively stable until CONMEBOL’s Copa America (2015/2016) or UEFA’s Euro (2016). Copa America and Euro will of course result in changes, but only for certain regional confederations, whereas the World Cup helps and/or hurts every FIFA team in the world. Let’s get into these preliminary rankings, starting with the prediction for the new top 30:
Below is a chart showing how teams entered the World Cup Finals and how the final results moved them around:
Oh how the mighty have fallen. Given that Spain, England and Italy were all bumped from the tournament in the Group Stage, Spain fared quite well only dropping to number 8. Italy and England were not so lucky, falling to 18th and 25th respectively. The impressive tournament performance by CONCACAF teams advancing to the knockout stage (Mexico, USA and Costa Rica) only allowed Costa Rica to move up from 28th to 23rd. The United States dropped from 13th to 22nd and Mexico held at 20th. Those European teams that made it out of the Group Stage did quite well, especially the Netherlands (15th to 3rd), France (17th to 6th) and Belgium (11th to 5th). Of course, these are all predictions using the FIFA Prognosis Tool (better than WebMD) and will be either blown out of the water or confirmed come Thursday when FIFA is set to release their next rankings update. IF these predictions hold true, the highest ranked team that is not a member of UEFA or CONMEBOL is…Algeria, at 19th in the world. I’ll bet nobody called that one.
Check in after FIFA releases their new rankings this Thursday for a comparison of FIFA using FIFA math and my attempt at using FIFA math.
FIFA won’t be officially updating the FIFA/Coca-Cola World Rankings until after the World Cup Finals are over (July 17th to be exact). Here at the93rdminute, we’ve taken it upon ourselves to provide you with (approximate) updates to the World Rankings as the world progresses through the next four rounds of games. You might be saying, “How on Earth can those brilliant minds at the93rdminute, my favorite soccer blog, know what the rankings will be?!?!?” and the answer is…math! We are using the FIFA Ranking Prognosis Tool, which can be found here. Essentially, the tool allows you to calculate your favorite national squad’s possible ranking points by inserting the results of recent matches. For more on how the ranking points are determined, see here.
Below you can see the top 30 teams before the World Cup, with their estimated ranking points after the group stage.
The next image displays the newly ordered rankings, which has Colombia taking over first place and not surprisingly Spain falling off the top of the mountain.
There are a few surprises with how the math works out, like the USA dropping two spots and losing ranking points, Brazil barely staying in the top 10, and England and Italy plummeting. Although Jürgen and the boys advanced to the knockout stage, they only managed a win against Ghana, the worst ranked team in the group. A draw against Germany or a win against Portugal would have been a net gain of 50-100 ranking points, putting the Yanks near the top 10! Math is crazy, I know. Brazil played a relatively weak group (Mexico, Croatia and Cameroon ranked 20th, 18th, and 56th respectively) and didn’t exactly blow them all out of the water. As for England and Italy, they have had better group stage experiences that is for sure.
We will be updating this after every round (or more often) throughout the World Cup and see how it compares to the official rankings in a few weeks. Keep coming back to the93rdminute for all your FIFA-related mathematical skepticism!
Brazil is opening their World Cup against Croatia and many assume that it is a automatic win for them. El Selecao are playing on home soil after all, and their team was exempt from going through the gauntlet of World Cup qualification. Add to that their star-power and pedigree, and it is no wonder that they are believed not only to be favorites for today’s opening game but also favorites to lift the World Cup trophy. However, it is a common misconception for people to count out Eastern European countries when it comes to soccer because they do not have the flashiness and history that teams such as England, Spain, Portugal, and Italy do. Croatia is a much better team then most people realize and if anyone is going to upset Brazil in the group stage it has to be them.
The best player on Croatia is Luka Modric. He makes his money playing club soccer for Real Madrid and his job during Croatia’s World Cup will be to play as a holding midfielder in charge of facilitating the offense and shoring up the defense. Ivan Rakitic is another great player who is currently rumored to be on the wish list of Barcelona. He will play in the center of the midfield alongside Luka Modric and will play as a destroyer in order to strengthen the Croatian defense against the high-octane Brazilian offense while Mateo Kovacic plays as the attacking midfielder. Unfortunately, Croatia will be without Mario Mandžukić who will be serving a one-game suspension which carried over from World Cup qualifying. He will definitely be missed but Nikita Jelavic has the talent, despite his less than satisfying Hull City club season, to put the ball in the back of the net while Mateo is forced to sit on the bench.
Neymar, Oscar David Luiz, Dani Alves, and Willian are just some of the many stars that will play for Brazil. They are quick, talented, and skilled both on and off the ball. The energy from the home crowd will spur them on even more as seen by their spectacular performances in last year’s Confederations Cup. However, since they did not have to qualify it has been awhile since they have faced the type of do-or-die games Croatia have become accustomed to after playing in the ultra-competitive European World cup qualification. Brazil deserve to be the favorites today but Croatia is capable of stealing a point here and if luck rolls their way they could possibly steal three.