England move up to third in latest Fifa world rankings

  • @simonrice

Shortly after their quarter-final exit from Euro 2012, many were surprised to learn England were ranked the fourth best team in the world by Fifa.

And yet, Roy Hodgson's side have moved up further still, and now sit third in Fifa's world rankings which were released this morning.

It is England's highest rank since Fifa introduced the ranking system, and all the more remarkable for the fact the England players haven't kicked a ball since they were dumped out of Euro 2012 by Italy on penalties.

It means England are now, at least officially, better than Italy, Portugal, Argentina, Netherlands, Brazil - and now Uruguay, who they overtook in the latest rankings.

It is difficult to take Fifa's rankings too seriously, especially considering England have not made a semi-final appearance at a major international tournament since 1996.

Perhaps even more shocking is that apparently Greece are better than Brazil. The most successful international team in history slipped outside the top 10 for the first time last month, and have now slipped a further two places to 13th.

The Fifa rankings have regularly come in for criticism since their introduction in 1992 for their complexity and the skewed results they produce. They are based on all Fifa-recognised full international matches, which includes friendlies, over the last four years. More recent results, the significance of matches, the strength of opposition and the regional strength of sides all affect the weight given to each game, which explains why Netherlands - who lost all three of their matches at Euro 2012 - slipped from fourth to eighth after the tournament.

Following victory at Euro 2012, Spain remain the top ranked side in the world, while Germany remain second.