England up to third in FIFA world rankings, leaving Italy trailing

Watch out, Spain! England leave Italy trailing and move up to third in FIFA world rankings

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UPDATED:

10:07 GMT, 8 August 2012

England have climbed to third place in the latest FIFA world rankings – their highest position.

Roy Hodgson’s side exited Euro 2012 at the quarter-final stage and have failed to reach the last four of a major competition since 1996.

Yet they have moved above Uruguay into third in the standings, which are led by Spain with Germany in second place.

More misery: England crashed out of Euro 2012 to Italy in the quarter-finals

More misery: England crashed out of Euro 2012 to Italy in the quarter-finals

England were outclassed by Italy in their quarter-final in Kiev six weeks ago, yet bizarrely are ranked three places higher than the finalists.

Portugal, who reached the semis at Euro 2012, are also lower, as are Holland and Argentina.

In a further quirk of the standings, Brazil are 13th – one position below Greece and three beneath Denmark.

England’s lofty position asks significant questions of the way the rankings are calculated.

Apart from a friendly win over Spain last November and the 5-1 thrashing of Croatia in a qualifier for the 2010 World Cup, England fans have had precious little to celebrate in recent times.

Odd: Italy reached the Euro 2012 final - but England are ranked above them

Odd: Italy reached the Euro 2012 final – but England are ranked above them

The nation’s last victory against significant opposition at a major competition was the 1-0 win over Argentina at the 2002 World Cup in Japan and South Korea.

FIFA state their rankings are based on all international matches, including friendlies, played in the previous four years.

The criteria included are the outcome, status of the match, opponent’s strength and the strength of team’s confederation.

Wins against high ranking opponents in competitive matches are very valuable, while only results over the last 12 months count in full.

Those from the previous year count half, while games played up to three and four years earlier have even less significance.

Since the 2010 World Cup, England’s record reads a respectable won 13, drawn five and lost three.

But their inability to launch a meaningful challenge at tournaments, where they have consistently fallen short against quality opponents, will bemuse supporters surveying the last FIFA rankings.