Let’s check in with the FIFA World Rankings, the monthly chart that shows the Swiss really do have a sense of humor.
March’s spreadsheet of spuriousness has Germany first and Argentina second, which at least is hard to dispute. In fact, new entry Italy (10) is the only mover in the top ten, so Colombia and Belgium are still third and fourth. Riiiiight.
Spain are… wait, where is Spain? Is Spain still a team? (Scrolls down.) Woah. La Furia Roja isn’t even in the top ten. That’s quite a fall for the nation that was king from 2008 to 2013. Spain hasn’t been this low since 2007, when half the team was made up of Valencia players.
What’s caused this collapse? The World Cup, clearly, when Spain lost two, got eliminated, then managed to beat Australia once it didn’t matter anymore. The men led by part-benevolent uncle, part-walrus Vicente Del Bosque have been mediocre since, losing to France and Germany in friendlies and to Slovakia in a Euro 2016 qualifier.
Still, Spain hasn’t actually played a match since November 18, so can consider itself unfortunate to be ejected from the elite and replaced with Italy, which also hasn’t played for three months, yet has somehow moved two places up the rankings.
The former world champion is now on 1,130 points, only 4 points in front of Switzerland. England, in seventeenth, is now worse than the Czech Republic. Mexico, back in 21st, is three places adrift of Algeria. The U.S. of Jurgen? Thirty-second. Now six places behind Israel and seven beneath Tunisia.
That’s nothing, though. Lebanon (146th) sunk 25 places without playing. Your highest climber on the FIFA Hot 209? The mighty Barbados, up eleven to 131. It’s imperative that The Soccer Gods launches an all-expenses paid trip to the paradisiac Caribbean island to thoroughly investigate this phenomenon.
Team to watch? The Cape Verde Islands, who are somehow 38th, officially better than Serbia, Nigeria, Sweden, Hungary, Slovenia and Cameroon. The plucky volcanic archipelago off Africa’s west coast, population 500,000, wasn’t even in the top 100 five years ago. But on current form they’ll be higher than Spain come the start of 2016.
Overall, though, we prefer the far more credible Unofficial Football World Championships rankings. Best team in the world? Scotland!