April 8, 2009

Spain has record hold on top soccer spot

Spain, which has been rated No. 1 since last June, has opened a record lead over second-ranked Germany in the FIFA men's soccer rankings released Wednesday.

The Spanish team has a 31-match unbeaten string and picked up 63 ratings points in the last month with a pair of victories over Turkey in World Cup qualifying. Spain has 1,729 points. Germany, which lost 4 points last month, has 1,362.

The 367-point differential is the largest between the top two teams since FIFA began its rankings in 1993.

Also of concern to the Germans' was the 43-point gain by No. 3 Netherlands, which is 2 points out of second place with 1,360 points.

Brazil improved its latest ranking one place to fourth, dropping Italy to fifth.

Argentina remained sixth but England, which collected a Top 10-best 90 points in the last month, was up two spots to seventh, bumping Croatia and Russia each down one spot to eighth and ninth, respectively. France, which collected 70 points last month, went from 12th to 10th.

The FIFA world rankings are determined by points received from match results over a three-year period, with more recent matches given greater weight. Teams also get more points for playing relatively strong opponents.