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Costa Rica achieves highest FIFA ranking ever (No. 16) after historic World Cup run

July 17, 2014

Costa Rica ranks 16th in the world — its highest position ever — in the first FIFA rankings published since the World Cup.

The Ticos jumped up 12 places after reaching the World Cup quarterfinals for the first time. Costa Rica also  surpassed Mexico (No. 18) for the first time since the polls started in 1993.

Costa Rica’s previous best ranking was No. 17 in 2003. The Ticos are now the second-highest ranked team in the North and Central America region known as  CONCACAF, trailing only the United States. The U.S. slipped two spots to No. 15.

The FIFA rankings, released Thursday, often are criticized for its seemingly baseless methodology that looks at countries’ performances over a four-year period. However, the latest rankings, at least at the top, seem to reflect what occurred in Brazil.

World Cup champion Germany tops the list. Runner-up Argentina is second, followed by third-place finishers the Netherlands. The Dutch, along with Costa Rica, were the biggest risers in the new poll among World Cup participants as both moved up 12 spots.

England, the last-place finishers in Costa Rica’s group, suffered the biggest fall. The English plunged 10 spots to 20th, the country’s lowest ranking since May 1996. Costa Rica and England played to a scoreless tie. But the game was mostly meaningless: By that point the Ticos already had qualified for the next round and England already was eliminated.

Spain, the previous No. 1, fell to 8th after a shock group stage elimination. The tournament hosts Brazil dropped four spots to No. 7 after an inadequate fourth place finish.

Portugal, like Spain, plummeted seven spots, landing at No. 11 after disappointing in the World Cup again.

The Italians, defeated by Costa Rica 1-0 in Group D, fell five spots to No. 14 after failing to escape the group stage.

Uruguay, beaten by Costa Rica 3-1 in Group D’s opening match, managed to move up a spot to 6th in the world. The Ticos knocked off the Uruguayans when they were playing without injured superstar Luis Suárez. The striker returned for the next two matches, and Uruguay won them both to reach the knockout round (Suárez missed the team’s knockout round loss to Colombia, after being suspended for biting an Italian player).

Greece, the team Costa Rica eliminated on PKs to reach the quarterfinals, fell one spot to 13.

Panama, at No. 33, is now the fourth-highest ranked team from CONCACAF despite missing the tournament. Honduras, the final CONCACAF team to qualify, dropped seven spots to 40th. Honduras lost all three of its matches at the World Cup.

As for the rest of Central America, El Salvador somehow plummeted 53 spots to 121. Guatemala fell seven spots to 13th. Belize tumbled nine spots to 117. And although Nicaragua moved up one spot, the country still ranks last on the isthmus at 175. Still, Nicaraguans had much reason to celebrate during this World Cup thanks to the historic play of Costa Rica’s Nicaragua-born defender Óscar Duarte.

Additionally, The Ticos learned Thursday morning that they’ll face Nicaragua and Panama in September in the first round of the Central America Cup 2014.

1. Germany (+1)

2. Argentina (+3)

3. The Netherlands (+12)

4. Colombia (+4)

5. Belgium (+6)

6. Uruguay (+1)

7. Brazil (-4)

8. Spain (-7)

9. Switzerland (-3)

10. France (+7)

11. Portugal (-7)

12. Chile (+2)

13. Greece (-1)

14. Italy (-5)

15. United States (-2)

16. Costa Rica (+12)

17. Croatia (+1)

18. Mexico (+2)

19. Bosnia and Herzegovina (+2)

20. England (-10)

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