Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The ups and downs of the 2010 World Cup

Qualifying for the World Cup is always cause for celebration, but every one of the 32 participants will have their own level of expectation which will determine their success or failure at the end of their campaign. Making a note of their positions in before and after the tournament is a good indicator of their true level of success.
Movement among the top teams can be minimal but telling.
Newly crowned world champions Spain were already at the top of the rankings but gained sufficient points to build a substantial gap between themselves and the rest of the pack.
The nearly-men of the Netherlands moved up one place into 2nd and should be happy with their showing once the dust of their disappointing but deserved defeat in the final has settled.
Germany performed well and moved up 2 places into 3rd while Brazil who were knocked out in the quarter-finals moved down 2 places into 4th.
Argentina who struggled to qualify for the finals seemed to have come good until they were derailed by Germany, but moved up one position and should be relatively content with their progress.
Portugal were narrowly beaten by Spain, but moved up 3 places having annihilated North Korea 7-0 and held Brazil to a goalless draw to negotiate a difficult group.
Chile reached the round of 16 and may have done better had they not been swept aside by Brazil, but keep their 7th spot.
Uruguay may have finished 4th in the world but only moved 4 places up into 8th as their path towards the semi was not so demanding.
England moved down 5 places after a disappointing World Cup, though for some reason they moved up one place in the FIFA rankings.
Mexico moved down 2 places having failed to win their group and consequently losing to Argentina in the next round.
Paraguay climbed 5 places having won their group and reached the quarter-finals where in a tight game they were beaten 1-0 by Spain.
Serbia were disappointed not to reach the next round despite a win over Germany in their first match and moved down 4 places.
Switzerland narrowly missed out on the next round but moved up 10 places and will be remembered for their shock win over eventual champions Spain.
Italy sank 10 places after losing their crown and finishing bottom of their group.
USA topped their group and were beaten by Ghana in extra time moving them up 4 places in the rankings.
Japan, who had not been doing well leading up to the World Cup, did Asia proud in the tournament going out on penalties against Paraguay after beating Cameroon and Denmark in the group stage and moving up 20 places in the process. Ghana, the brilliant stars of Africa who set the continent alight and were a penalty away from making it into the top 4 moved up 23 places in the rankings. South Korea moved down 3 places having had a mediocre tournament scraping through their group only to be knocked out at the next stage.
Slovenia also moved down 3 places after narrowly missing out on a place in the round of 16.
Ivory Coast did not get past the group stage but moved up 10 places having held their own in a difficult group.
Slovakia moved up 3 places and will remember fondly their 3-2 win over reigning champions Italy though they went out to the Dutch in the next round. France moved down 12 places having finished bottom of their group. Australia started poorly but improved in every match finally going out on goal difference after their win against Serbia and moving up 5 places. Greece dropped 7 places and went home disappointed after losing the match and second place to South Korea.
Honduras can be relatively happy with their point against the Swiss though they finished bottom of their group as expected and did not move in the rankings. Denmark moved down 13 places after being beaten convincingly by Japan in the decisive group match.
Nigeria may have finished last in their group but would have qualified had they not missed a sitter in their last match against South Korea and move up 4 places.
South Africa hosted the tournament and moved up a place having gone out on goal difference with a win over France.
Cameroon lost all 3 matches and 2 positions in the rankings. Algeria held England to a goalless draw and were beaten narrowly in their other matches to move up 12 places.
North Korea seemed to have given everything against Brazil but moved down 8 places after falling apart against Portugal and Ivory Coast.
New Zealand were one of the success stories of the World Cup moving up 23 places after ending the tournament without losing a match having drawn against Slovakia, Paraguay and Italy.