Soccer: Israel drops to 18th in FIFA rankings

National team nevertheless, remains ahead of such teams as Nigeria (19) and Greece (20).

fifa disk 88 (photo credit: )
fifa disk 88
(photo credit: )
Israel dropped three places in the new FIFA rankings released on Wednesday, falling to number 18 in the world. The national team, which hasn't reached a major tournament since the 1970 World Cup, nevertheless, remains ahead of such teams as Nigeria (19) and Greece (20). European champion Spain has ended the year as the world's No.1-ranked nation. Spain won all 16 of its matches in 2008 - including the penalty shootout victory over Italy in a European Championship quarterfinal. After starting the year ranked No.4, it has been top for six straight months since winning Euro 2008 in June. Germany, the beaten finalist is still at No.2, while the Netherlands rose one to No.3, trading places with world champion Italy. South American rivals Brazil and Argentina followed in fifth and sixth. England continued its revival under coach Fabio Capello, moving up two places to No.8. Euro 2008 semifinalist Turkey climbed three to No.10. The Czech Republic and Portugal fell out of the top 10, joining France in a three-way tie for No.11. Cameroon is the top African nation at No.14, The United States leads the CONCACAF federation, up two places to No.22. Australia continued to head the Asian confederation nations, up nine at No.28, while Oceania's leading nation New Zealand dropped 26 places to No.86. In 2008, major jumps were made by Euro 2008 semifinalist Russia (up 14 places to end the year 9th) and Burkina Faso (up 51 spots to 62nd). Montenegro, which got its football independence from Serbia after the 2006 World Cup, jumped 60 places to No.112 in the rankings. A total of 1,040 international matches played in 2008 counted toward the rankings.