Spain still the best, according to Fifa rankings

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The Independent Football

Winners of the World Cup Spain stay at the top of Fifa's latest world rankings, with Germany and England rising after back-to-back wins in the European Championship qualifiers. The rankings see France, who lost a home Euro 2012 qualifier to Belarus, dropping six places to No 27 – their worst position since the rankings were introduced in 1993.

Les Bleus were seventh at the start of the year but their qualifying struggles follow a dismal World Cup performance that was overshadowed by splits in the camp leading to the bitter departure of their coach Raymond Domenech and leaving several leading players facing lengthy bans from the squad.

Spain's shock 4-1 defeat to Argentina meant their lead narrows over the Netherlands, their World Cup final opponents. Germany are third, and Brazil drop to No 4. The Argentines stay at No 5, with England now sixth ahead of Uruguay, Portugal, African champion Egypt and Chile.

Fifa updated the standings, which weigh results over a four-year cycle, using 159 international matches played over five weeks. Euro 2012 and 2012 African Cup of Nations qualifiers carried the most points.

Norway and Slovakia jump to No 14 and No 16 respectively – the Slovaks' best ever – on the back of two wins apiece while Turkey rise seven places to No 21.

The United States remain at No 18 and World Cup quarter-finalists Ghana climb three positions to No 20.

Switzerland, Australia and Russia drop out of the top 20. The Australians remain the top Asian confederation nation at No 24. New Zealand lead the Oceania nations at No 49. Montenegro rise to their best-ever ranking of 40th – up 33 places after Euro 2012 wins against Wales and Bulgaria – despite not being a recognised national team until three years ago.

The Balkan country cut its football ties with Serbia after they played at the 2006 World Cup and was admitted as Fifa's 208th and newest member in May 2007 with a ranking of 199.

Euro 2012 results also saw Lithuania, Cyprus and Northern Ireland leap at least 10 places into the top 50. Belarus jump 23 places to their best of 55th on the back of that famous defeat of France.

The summer's World Cup hosts South Africa rise eight places to No 58 – their best ranking in three years – after beating Ghana in a friendly and Niger in an African Cup of Nations qualifier. The Cape Verde Islands used a qualifying win over Mali to jump 31 places to No 77, and Guinea-Bissau's victory over Kenya in its first match since December 2007 lifted it 48 places to No 140.

Qatar, who are seeking to host the World Cup in 2022, drop six places to No 104 after a trio of drawn friendlies against Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bahrain and Oman. The organisers of Qatar's bid are to showcase a specially designed stadium this week which is supposed to keep fans and players cool while protecting the environment.

The stadium is part of organisers' efforts to convince Fifa inspectors, who are visiting this week, that the country can hold the tournament despite temperatures reaching 50C in the summer. The inspectors include six delegates, led by the Chile Football Federation president Harold Mayne-Nicholls.

Qatar is the final stop on a tour of nine countries which are bidding to host the 2018 or 2022 World Cups. Fifa will announce the winners in December.

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