World Cup

Spain tops FIFA rankings, France drops to 27th

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World Cup champion Spain stayed at the top of FIFA's world rankings on Wednesday, and Germany and England have risen after back-to-back wins in European Championship qualifiers.

The new rankings have France, which lost a home Euro 2012 qualifier to Belarus, dropping six places to No. 27 - its worst position since the rankings were introduced in 1993.

Spain's 4-1 loss to Argentina in a friendly last week meant its lead narrowed over the second-place Netherlands. Germany is No. 3, and Brazil dropped to No. 4.

Argentina stayed at No. 5, with England now sixth ahead of Uruguay. Portugal, African champion Egypt and Chile.

FIFA updated the standings, which weigh results over a four-year cycle, using 159 international matches played over five weeks. Euro 2012 and 2012 African Cup of Nations qualifiers carried the most points.

Norway and Slovakia each used a pair of wins to jump to No. 14 and No. 16, respectively - the Slovaks' best ever - and Turkey rose seven places to No. 21.

The United States remains at No. 18 and World Cup quarterfinalist Ghana climbed three to No. 20.

Switzerland, Australia and Russia dropped out of the top 20. The Australians remain the top Asian confederation nation at No. 24.

New Zealand leads the Oceania nations at No. 49, up five.

Montenegro soared to its best-ever place of No. 40 - up 33 places after Euro 2012 wins against Wales and Bulgaria - despite not being a recognized national team four years ago. The Balkan country cut football ties with Serbia after they played at the 2006 World Cup and was admitted as FIFA's 208th and newest member in May 2007 with a ranking of No. 199.

Euro 2012 results also let Lithuania, Cyprus and Northern Ireland leap at least 10 places into the top 50. Belarus jumped 23 places to its best of No. 55.

South Africa rose eight to No. 58 - its best placing since 2007 - after beating Ghana in a friendly and Niger in an African Cup qualifier.

The Cape Verde Islands used a qualifying win over Mali to jump 31 places to No. 77, and Guinea-Bissau's victory over Kenya in its first match since December 2007 lifted it 48 places to No. 140.

Qatar, which is seeking to host the World Cup in 2022, dropped six places to No. 104 after a trio of drawn friendlies against Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bahrain and Oman.

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