June 3, 2009

Spain, Netherlands top soccer rankings

Spain retained the world No. 1 ranking in men's soccer but the Netherlands moved up to No. 2, its highest ranking since 2005, FIFA said Wednesday.

Spain has a comfortable hold on the top spot but several teams jostled for position behind the European champions.

The Netherlands overtook Germany for the No. 2 spot, regaining the position it last held in October 2005. The Germans had been ranked second since last October.

Italy and Brazil also switched places, with the Italians going to fourth and dropping Brazil to fifth. England improved one position to sixth, with Argentina slipping one spot to seventh.

Eighth-ranked Croatia, No. 9 Russia and 10th-ranked France held steady and completed the Top 10.

A FIFA news release said with qualifying for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa heating up, there could be changes ahead in the world soccer rankings.

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.