Spain, Netherlands Jump Past Brazil in World Soccer Rankings

Spain and the Netherlands, which met in the World Cup final, moved past record five-time world champion Brazil to the top of FIFA’s world soccer rankings.

Spain moved up one place to the top ranking, while the Netherlands jumped two spots. Brazil, which lost to the Dutch in the quarterfinals in South Africa, is third.

Five of the top 10 slots are held by European teams, with No. 4 Germany, a surprise semifinalist, seventh-ranked England and Portugal, which dropped five places to eighth. Argentina is fifth, with Uruguay, the only non-European team to make the semifinals, rising 10 spots to sixth. That’s the highest-ever ranking for Uruguay, which along with No. 9 Egypt and 10th-ranked Chile was the biggest riser in the top 10.

“These three teams have benefited from disappointing performances by two giants of international football, Italy (11th, down 6) and France (21st, down 12),” FIFA said today in a statement. “The 2006 finalists pay the price for group-stage elimination in South Africa and, together with Croatia, no longer find themselves among the 10 best teams.”

Chile rose eight spots and Egypt gained three. Italy and France didn’t reach the knockout stages after failing to win any matches at the World Cup, which Spain won in a 1-0 victory over the Netherlands on July 11. Brazil was beaten 2-1 by the Dutch in the quarterfinals.

Croatia dropped five spots to 15th, while Greece in 12th, and the U.S., tied with Serbia in 13th, rose one place each. Paraguay, which lost to Spain in the quarterfinals, and Peru were the biggest gainers in the top 50, rising 15 spots to No. 16 and No. 38, respectively. Peru didn’t qualify for the World Cup.

South Africa, the host of the tournament, rose 17 spots to 66th while Ghana, which lost to Uruguay in the quarterfinals, was up nine places to 23rd. Nigeria fell 9 spots to 30th, and Cameroon declined 21 places to 40th.

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