With the World Cup one week away, there is a new Group of Death. At least according to the FIFA rankings. Which mean nothing. But are a topic of discussion, nonetheless.
Boosted by Costa Rica rising six slots, Group D is now the most treacherous quartet, overtaking the “G” foursome that claimed the hellish title since the draw in December.
Group D (54)
7. Uruguay (-1)
9. Italy (-)
10. England (+1)
28. Costa Rica (+6)
Group G (56)
2. Germany (-)
4. Portugal (-1)
13. United States (+1)
37. Ghana (+1)
It’s easy to ridicule FIFA’s rankings. Switzerland is No. 6? Greece 12th? Ghana nine slots behind Costa Rica? Iran ahead of Nigeria? Even Portugal’s ranking is inflated.
And with the tournament upon us, none of these numbers matter one bit. But we do love lists and rankings, and to the casual sports fan, the rankings do paint a general picture of the favorites and underdogs approaching the summer samba.
The “easiest” group is F: Argentina (5), Bosnia (21), Iran (43) and Nigeria (44), though Bosnia and Nigeria are pegged for a fierce second-place battle.
The lowest-ranked teams in the 32-team field: Australia (62), South Korea (57), Cameroon (56).
Highest-ranked teams not in the 32-team field: Ukraine (16), Denmark (tied for 23rd), Slovenia (25).
Rankings of previous World Cup champions: Spain (1), Germany (2), Brazil (3), Argentina (5), Uruguay (7), Italy (9), England (10), France (17).