Brazil slide down FIFA world rankings to No. 19; Spain remain No.1

The 2014 World Cup hosts -- automatic qualifiers for the tournament -- dropped one place to 19th in the list, which also saw Croatia jump five places and break into the top five.

The top three were unchanged with world champions Spain at number one followed by Germany and Brazil's arch South American foes, Argentina.

Croatia, who owe their sharp climb to fourth largely to their recent 2-0 "derby" win over Serbia, sit above Portugal (+2), Colombia, England, Italy (-3), Holland (-1) and Ecuador (+1), who complete the top 10.

Brazil, who are on a diet of friendlies ahead of their staging of next year's World Cup, registered a brace of draws in March -- 1-1 against Russia and 2-2 with Italy -- before seeing off Bolivia 4-0.

The Brazilian football team
The Brazil starting XI, (L-R top row) Julio Cesar, Hernanes, Fred, David Luiz, Thiago Silva, Oscar, (L-R bottom row) Daniel Alves, Fernando Lucas, Neymar, Marcelo and Kaka, before the start of their international friendly match against Russia at Stamford Bridge stadium in London in March. Pic/AFP 

The South Americans -- five-time winners of football's biggest prize -- have dropped in the rankings because FIFA's list awards more points for qualifying matches than friendlies.

England dropped three places to seventh following their 1-1 World Cup qualifying draw in Montenegro, which came after an 8-0 victory against minnows San Marino.

Wales leapt an astonishing 22 places from 71st to 49th, with their 2-1 win in Scotland followed by a 2-1 defeat in Croatia.

Ivory Coast are the highest-ranked African team, moving up a place to 12th.

Ecuador, meanwhile, have squeezed Russia out of the world's top ten football nations.

Reinaldo Rueda's team posted a 4-1 win over Paraguay in 2014 World Cup qualifying and a 5-0 thrashing of El Salvador in a friendly to snatch Russia's tenth place.

Fabio Capello's side slipped to No. 11 after Russia's March programme was reduced to a 1-1 friendly draw with Brazil. A March 22 World Cup qualifier against Northern Ireland was postponed due to poor weather in Belfast.

Latest FIFA World rankings released Thursday:


2. Germany

3. Argentina

4. Croatia (+5)

5. Portugal (+2)

6. Colombia

7. England (-3)

8. Italy (-3)

9. Holland (-1)

10. Ecuador (+1)

11. Russia (-1)

12. Ivory Coast (+1)

13. Greece (-1)

14. Mexico (+1)

15. Switzerland (-1)

16. Belgium (+3)

17. Uruguay (-1)

18. France (-1)

19. Brazil (-1)

20. Denmark (+5)


39. Republic of Ireland (+1)

49. Wales (+22)

77. Scotland

119. Northern Ireland (-22)

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