The FIFA world rankings were announced today, taking into consideration Euro 2016 and the Copa America Centenary finals.
With three of the home nations and the Republic of Ireland taking part in this year’s championships, Pundit Arena looks at how they fared, particularly compared to the July 2012 (post-Euro 2012) rankings.
Considering how much has changed in these teams, it makes for interesting reading.
A few important things to note about these rankings:
- The formula for points won at each individual match can be found here.
- Rankings are based on the average results from the past four years (with results becoming less significant as they become older)
- The above means that results from before, and during, Euro 2012 are now obsolete
- The FIFA world rankings are notoriously difficult to decipher
The Republic of Ireland awaited the announcement of the FIFA world rankings this morning, expecting a significant jump following a relatively successful Euro 2016 campaign. However, despite a draw against Sweden and a victory over Italy, Ireland found themselves rising just two places (to 31st).
This was mainly due to Ireland falling just short of teams such as Ukraine, Netherlands and Bosnia plummeting down the rankings following unsuccessful (or non-existent) Euro campaigns. We did, however, manage to leapfrog Algeria, which is something.
Compared to post-Euro 2012, Ireland were actually in 26th come July 2012 despite having fallen eight places after three demoralising defeats in Poland. Yes, Ireland were 18th in the world heading into that tournament, ahead of teams such as Colombia (now third in the world), and Mexico (now 14th).
England’s dreadful tournament, epitomised by a seismic defeat to newcomers Iceland, is reflected in the world rankings, although not as dramatically as you might expect. The world ranking system, as you can see above, is a minefield. Effectively, if you win, it’s worth points. If they are a better team than you, you earn more points. If it’s in a tournament, you also earn more points.
However, a loss is a loss, and as such England’s defeat to Iceland in the round of 16 is the equivalent of them losing to Spain in a final. As a result, England fell only two places to 13th. A hefty fall from sixth in July 2012, and whoever takes over from Roy Hodgson has their work cut out.
Wales’ remarkable 3-1 victory over Belgium is recognised as they jumped an astonishing 289 points and 15 places to eleventh. More importantly, they move ahead of bitter rivals, and group conquerors, England. Chris Coleman has worked wonders with this Welsh squad, taking them to a first ever tournament semi-final and their second-highest ever ranking in the world (having broken the record in August of last year).
Back in July 2012? Wales were in 38th, although they had managed a rise despite not being in the championships that summer. Even more impressive, if you go back to August 2011, Wales were a shocking 117th in August 2011.
Northern Ireland’s progression through a tough group, however, is not reflected, as Michael O’Neill’s men move into 28th, a three-place drop. This one is a bit confusing. First of all, they did lose three of their four games at the championships. It gets more confusing if you consider the depreciating results from the last four years.
Northern Ireland’s results are so erratic, they move from victories over Russia, Serbia and Slovenia (and a draw against Portugal) to losses against Azerbaijan and Estonia. They also weren’t helped by excellent tournaments from the USA and Iceland, who have thunder-clapped their way to 22nd. But where were they in July 2012? Northern Ireland ranked an appalling 102nd, behind football powerhouses such as Kuwait and Burkina Faso.
Scotland. Poor Scotland. Left home alone for Euro 2016 after looking set to pip Ireland to the play-off spot, only to lose to Georgia and watch Ireland defeat the world champions.
Scotland have dropped seven places to 50th in the latest rankings, not helped by Venezuela jumping an astonishing 31 places after an excellent Copa America. In July 2012, Scotland were also on an extended summer break, but actually managed to rise seven places to 41st. Bless.
Rob O’Hanrahan, Pundit Arena