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How the heck is Brazil the 22nd best team in the world?

Neymar upset

One year away from hosting the World Cup and Brazil have dropped to No. 22 in the FIFA rankings.

The new ranking is a historic low for Brazil, who have never previously been south of No. 20. The five-time world champions dropped three places, from their previous rank of 19th, and are now sandwiched between Ghana and Mali.

Nations that are ahead of Brazil?

Bosnia-Herzegovina. Switzerland. Greece. Denmark. You know, your typical world powerhouses.

So how the heck did Brazil slip all the way to 22nd in the world?

As you know, the FIFA rankings are flawed. Terribly, terribly flawed (for a graphic explanation of the rankings, click here). But still, there must be some rationale behind the drop.

One reason for the sag is their unimpressive recent results, which include four draws in their last five matches. The draws have come against England, Chile, Russia and Italy.

Their only win during that stint was a 4-0 thrashing of Bolivia, who currently sit second from bottom in CONMEBOL World Cup Qualifying and are ranked 53rd in the world. The only other match the Seleção has played in 2013 was another fixture against England, which Luiz Felipe Scolari’s side lost 2-1.

Another reason for Brazil’s slide is that by spending the last two years playing only friendlies (by virtue of qualifying for the World Cup through being the host nation), they earn fewer points under FIFA’s complex calculation system.

So while the new rankings come as a huge embarrassment to the football-obsessed nation, the reality is that most still fear what Neymar & Co. can do in the upcoming World Cup. Notably, Las Vegas has Brazil as the favorites to win the World Cup at 10/3 (followed by Spain and Argentina at 5/1 and Germany at 11/2).

Other notables in the FIFA World Rankings include the U.S., which moved up one spot to 28th, England, which slipped two positions to 9th, and Belgium (12th), Bosnia-Herzegovina (15th) and Albania (38th), who all reached their highest-ever ranking.

Here are the Top 30 nations according to FIFA’s rankings:

  1. Spain
  2. Germany
  3. Argentina
  4. Croatia
  5. Netherlands
  6. Portugal
  7. Colombia
  8. Italy
  9. England
  10. Ecuador
  11. Russia
  12. Belgium
  13. Ivory Coast
  14. Switzerland
  15. Bosnia-Herzegovina
  16. Greece
  17. Mexico
  18. France
  19. Uruguay
  20. Denmark
  21. Ghana
  22. Brazil
  23. Mali
  24. Czech Republic
  25. Chile
  26. Montenegro
  27. Sweden
  28. USA
  29. Norway
  30. Peru