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June 8, 2012

World Football Rankings - June 2012

It all started with continuing frustration with solely result-based rankings systems. I'm not against computers calculating ratings for us in theory. In fact I subscribed to Ken Pomeroy's website last year in attempt to make my March Madness bracket not awful. (Had I stuck to his ratings I would have won my pool, actually.) And while I do appreciate the transparent of FIFA's current rating system, it isn't adequate enough. We can not rank teams, that routinely send their second string players, only based off how many goals did they score/allow.

So this project is an attempt to rank every international team. The idea is similar to calculating one's GPA. Every team's players get rated 1-100 (hopefully by someone who knows what they're talking about) and then they're given an expected minutes played number.

So the scenario is, if the World Cup was in one month and every team had a month to prepare it's squad to play, who would be chosen, what would their ratings be, and how many minutes would they play on average? You have to factor in long term injuries but current fitness issues you could likely ignore. For example, Stuart Holden will likely make the actual World Cup squad but for now I have to keep him off as he is recovering from a massive knee injury. This is who we would expect to see, not who we think should be on the pitch. For example, this is what I'd expect to see for USA's squad:

Rating - Player (Position) mins

81 - Howard (GK) 90 mins
73 - Cherundolo (RB) 70 mins
71.5 - Bocanegra (CB) 85 mins
69.5 - Goodson (CB) 70 mins
72.5 - Johnson (LB) 80 mins
74.5 - Bradley (CDM) 90 mins
76.5 - Jones (CDM) 80 mins
70 - Torres (CM) 60 mins
82 - Dempsey (LW) 90 mins
80.5 - Donovan (RW) 90 mins
74 - Altidore (ST) 75 mins

71.5 - Chandler (RB) 15 mins
70.5 - Lichaj (RB) 5 mins
69 - Parkhurst (CB/RB) 5 mins
68 - Onyewu (CB) 13 mins
69 - Cameron (CB) 7 mins
69.5 - Castillo (LB) 10 mins
69.5 - Edu (CM) 15 mins
70.5 - Beckerman (CM) 10 mins
68 - Boyd (ST) 3 mins
70 - Gomez (ST) 25 mins
68 - Wondolowski (ST) 2 mins

(For the reader, I gave Howard a 81 rating and expect him to play 90 minutes.)

What This Is Not
  • This is not a World Cup roster prediction. Nor is this a logical roster prediction. Yes there are 23 players listed above but there is only one goalie and ten defenders. Eight defenders would be considered above average for WC play. Also the limited time doesn't indicate a substitution. It simply means that on average, we could expect Goodson to play 70 minutes. Maybe he sits out one game completely and plays another three full games.
  • This is not a perfect rating system. There never will be one. But at the very least we could not have bad ones. There are several things we could never predict and taking outlying factors into consideration would be incredibly tough. I think France in South Africa 2010 is a great example.

Special thanks to as most of the forums were incredibly polite and helpful in painting the national picture for me. Typically I just wander around the USA forums but for this project I dipped into each available country and got a ton of positive feedback, which was really cool.

If you want to fix/edit another country let me know. (You can navigate through the tabs atop the page). I'm sure the CONCACAF is pretty inaccurate and some people aren't thrilled Senegal is 23rd. The cool thing about this is that you can say "Oh X team shouldn't be that high because X player is overrated and should X number instead." instead of "That's wrong boo that sucks." Although it's always been funny to me that people look at rankings only to find mistakes though. You never hear "Oh they got such and such teams right..." It's always about what the biggest mistake is. So please, objectively tell me what I can do to be more correct. I realize this is a big overtaking and should be taken with a grain of salt but I thought it'd still be interesting to compile. If you have any questions/corrections let me know.

(And I still haven't done the most recent USMNT Hopefuls... Ah...)


  1. teams obviously sticking out to me are Wales (seems much too high, even though i love aaron ramsey), and the Asian powerhouses Japan and South Korea. Those teams are both GOOD, and seem way too low. Korea would be higher than Japan for me, and would probably show up just below USA. I realize its not a ranking of who would win but I would take Korea in a neutral field match against the US 3 times out of 4...

  2. other than those (and they're probably just personal preference) this is a great list. especially the top 15 or so, which lets be honest is all that really matters anyways.. the FIFA rankings can determine 20-200 just fine, but it has no idea what its doing with the 1-15