Thursday, November 28, 2013

Fifa World Rankings November 2013

FIFA World Fifa Rankings
Fifa World Rankings November 2013

Fifa's World Rankings for November 2013 were published today at FIFA HQ in Zurich, Switzerland. The Fifa World Rankings are now published on Thursday and not Wednesday as before.

Euro 2012 winners Spain are still on top of the FIFA rankings, where they have been since September 2011, followed by Germany, Argentina, Colombia, Portugal, fresh from their play-off win over Sweden, Uruguay, Italy, Switzerland, the Netherlands, and World Cup 2014 hosts Brazil.

England are 13th after successive home friendly losses to Chile and Germany at Wembley.

Scotland are in 33rd position, up two places. The Republic of Ireland are in 67th place, another all-time low, Wales are in 56th with Northern Ireland down in 90th place, unchanged from last month.

Ranking Team
1 Spain
2 Germany
3 Argentina
4 Colombia
5 Portugal
6 Uruguay
7 Italy
8 Switzerland
9 Netherlands
10 Brazil
11 Belgium
12 Greece
13 England
14 USA
15 Chile
16 Croatia
17 Côte d'Ivoire
18 Ukraine
19 France
20 Mexico

Full world rankings

Previous Fifa World Rankings


Croatia edges Iceland makes it eight out of ten appearances at big tournaments

An amazing feat for a small country

By Ozren Podnar

Iceland came within inches of becoming the smallest country by population ever represented at a World Cup final tournament when they were drawn against Croatia in the European zone playoffs. With 320,000 citizens, the insular nation in the North Atlantic is three times less populous than the current champions - Trinidad and Tobago.

Iceland flag.

But, it was not to be for the descendants of the Viking explorers. Croatia edged Iceland with a 2-0 home win in Zagreb after a goalless draw in Reykjavik. The newly appointed manager Niko Kovac (ex-Hertha, HSV and Bayern midfielder) outsmarted his ultra-experienced counterpart on the Icelandic bench, Lars Lagerback.

Instead of Iceland, travelling to Brazil will be Croatia, another of the small nations, but with a respectable international record. Croatia, with 4.3 million inhabitants a giant compared to Iceland, will appear in its 8th final tournament, counting both World Cups and Euros. Taking into account the country's size, population, number of registered players and its GNP, Croatia is in fact one of the most successful soccer nations.

According to an analysis published on the Zagreb-based web site, a total of 60 teams, 28 of which are European, have qualified for the last five World Cups, including Brazil 2014. The analysis covered the period since 1994, when the red-and-whites were first allowed to take part in a qualifying stage, which happened to be for Euro 1996 in England.

David among Goliaths

Only eleven teams, five of which are European, have reached all five tournaments. France and Germany qualified automatically for the tournament each of them hosted, while England, Italy and Spain qualified every time by playing in the qualifiers.

Six countries have made it to four out of five tournaments, three coming from Europe: Holland, Portugal and Croatia. Compared to the other seven countries that have qualified for at least four out of five latest World Cups, Croatia is by far smallest in size, population and GNP.

Only four other European nations have taken part in three out of the last five World Cups - Belgium, Denmark, Switzerland and Serbia (including Serbia-Montenegro and FR Yugoslavia, as Serbia's legal predecessors). Judging by the number of participations at the World Cups since 1998, Croatia is among the eight most successful European countries, in spite of its numerical and financial inferiority with respect to many countries with fewer appearances.

But, there's also the European championship. All in all, 27 teams have taken part at the five most recent editions. Seven teams have been present at all five final tournaments: Spain, France, Italy, Germany, the Czech Republic, Holland and Portugal, but the latter two received a bye for the tournaments they organized.

Croatia is in the second group of five nations which have participated at four of the past five Euros. The others are Russia, Sweden, Denmark and England, who missed out on Euro 2008 due to an embarrassing 2-3 loss to Croatia at Wembley. Therefore, Croatia is among the eleven European countries with the most participations, ahead of Greece, Turkey, Belgium or Poland.

Considering both competitions, only four teams have qualified for all ten of the most recent tournaments - Italy, Spain, France and Germany. Three more have reached nine out of ten final tournaments - England, Holland and Portugal, but all three received a bye for the Euros they organized.

Croatia are the only team represented at eight out of ten big events, and one of the four who qualified for eight events by actually playing, alongside England, Holland and Portugal. Compared to the seven countries that have fared better regarding participations, Croatia is by far the least populous. Its population is just two fifths that of the closest rival, Portugal, whose GNP is by 17 percent higher than Croatia's.

Many wealthier, larger and more populous countries have remained behind Croatia in this analysis; not one which is inferior by the criteria used in this analysis has achieved more participations. And the Croats are apparently very proud of this achievement, as the fans' euphoria and the manager Niko Kovac's tears demonstrated on the night Iceland was beaten.

Least populous countries ever to feature at a World Cup

1. Trinidad and Tobago (2006) - 1 million 2. Northern Ireland (1958, 1982, 1986) - 1,8 million 3. Slovenia (2002, 2010) - 2 million 4. Kuwait (1982) - 2,5 million 5. Jamaica (1998) - 2,9 million

In brackets: featured World Cup(s)

Top teams by participation in last 10 big events 1-4. France* - 10/10 Germany* Italy Spain 5-7. England* - 9/10 Holland* Portugal 8. Croatia - 8/10

Note: the teams marked with an asterisk qualified automatically for one tournament each


Thursday, November 21, 2013

Progress made on all fronts in Korea

K League
Tight at top and bottom

The Korean season is coming to a close but the final week or so promises to be full of action at both bottom and top, even if quite a few of those in between are starting to dream of, or dread, 2014. Ulsan Horangi took the 2012 Asian Champions League title but have benefitted domestically after not qualifying for the 2013 version of the continental competition. Focusing on the league alone has really helped Kim Ho-gon’s men stride into the lead.

Going into the weekend’s round, Ulsan are two points clear at the summit above their only challengers Pohang Steelers although Pohang have played a game more with just two matches remaining.

These two south-eastern rivals have pulled away from a fading pack. Pohang have won the last four games, a recent record surpassed only by Ulsan with 15 points taken out of a possible 15. Striker Kim Shin-wook has been banging in the goals with 19 this season with Rafinha helping out with ten after returning from injury in the summer. This partnership – the original little and large combo –has been working very well. With Japanese midfielder Chikashi Masuda pulling the strings in midfield with Han Sung-woon consistently dangerous out wide, Ulsan have a constant goal threat and their strong defence means that a title is within reach.

With Pohang defeating Jeonbuk Motors on penalties in the FA Cup final in October, there is already some silverware in the Steelers’ cupboard. Hwang Sun-hong’s men have been consistent without really hitting the heights this season. Even so, a title would be a fantastic achievement.

The scramble to avoid the trapdoor

Jeonbuk and Seoul look to have a place in the 2014 Asian Champions League place in the bag leaving much attention on the battle to avoid the drop, a fight that has really got going in recent weeks. The bottom two go down while the team in 14th plays off against the winner of the second division. The bottom three Daejeon, Daegu and Gangwon have all started winning even if it is all a little late for Daejeon.

The team has taken 12 points from the last four games which would be great had it not managed just 16 from the 32 before that. A stress-related illness in October had coach Kim In-wan indisposed as his assistant Cho Jin ho has done a fine job. Daejeon are four points from safety with just two games left to play, if it happens, it will be the greatest escape since relegation was introduced in 2012. Gangwon also looked dead and buried but the situation in the east was not quite as dire. Under new coach Kim Yong-gap, they have taken five wins from the last seven and have moved out of the automatic drop zone, ahead of Daegu by three points.

Daegu's recent form has not been quite as impressive. They are three points behind Gangwon and Gyeongnam with three games left to play. The final game of the season when Gangwon come to visit could be decisive. Gyeongnam have slipped down into trouble with only goal difference keeping them in 13th. Just four wins from the last 16 has put the team in trouble with fans in September demanding the head of Ilija Petrovic. The club stood by Serbia’s 2006 World Cup coach and it remains to be seen if such loyalty will be rewarded.

Seoul lose out to Guangzhou

FC Seoul failed in their bid to become champions of Asia for the first time, losing to Guangzhou Evergrande in the final of the 2013 competition on away goals. Over 55,000 fans witnessed an exciting 2-2 draw in the first leg in the Korean capital on October 26. Seoul drew first blood through Sergio Escudero only for Elkeson to head Marcello Lippi’s men level on the half hour. It was looking grim for the K-League team just after the break when Gao Lin put the Chinese visitors ahead but Dejan Damjanovic gave the hosts a deserved equaliser four minutes from time.

Guangzhou controlled much of the second leg at home in southern China on November 9 and the pressure finally paid off after 58 minutes when Elkeson scored a fine goal. Just four minutes later however, Damjanovic silenced the stadium but Seoul were unable to get the all-important winner.

Better news for national team

For South Korea coach Hong Myong-bo, performances since he was appointed in July had been better than results but neither were perfect. That was why a 2-1 win over Switzerland in Seoul on November 15 was so well-received. The Swiss took an early lead but after the break, Korea sparkled thanks to Lee Chung-yong, Lee Keun-ho and Son Heung-min. The team ranked seven in the world did tire a little but just couldn’t keep up with the lightning-fast attacking play of the Taeguk Warriors.

A 2-1 defeat against Russia in Dubai four days later was not quite so good but still, there was little to choose between the two teams. This time Korea took an early lead but a goalkeeper howler from Jung Sung-ryung, struggling at the moment, let the Russians back in at a time when it was looking likelier that Korea would extend their lead. Progress is being made though there is still some way to go.