Spain cling on to top spot in FIFA rankings

Spain clung to the top of the FIFA rankings despite modest friendly performances this month while Venezuela's impressive World Cup qualifying campaign propelled them to a record high.

Once the whipping boys of South American football, Venezuela are joint top of the region's World Cup qualifying group along with Argentina and Uruguay after drawing in Colombia and beating Bolivia this month.

The only South American country never to have qualified for a World Cup, Venezuela once dropped as low as 129th but have now climbed to 39th place, their best position since the rankings were introduced in 1993.

Cape Verde (57th) and Antigua and Barbuda (83rd) are also in their highest-ever positions.

Leaders Spain lost 1-0 to England and drew 2-2 with Costa Rica in away friendlies but those disappointing results have not dislodged them from top spot.

They are followed by Netherlands, Germany and Uruguay as the top four remained unchanged.

England's win over Spain at Wembley took them up to fifth above Brazil, who were involved in low-key friendlies with Gabon and Egypt and earned fewer points because of the lower rankings of their opponents despite winning both games.

Ivory Coast are Africa's highest-ranked team at 16th with Japan leading the Asian contingent in 19th.

At the other end, Sao Tome and Principe, who played their first full internationals for eight years when they faced Congo in a two-leg World Cup qualifying tie, re-entered the rankings at 192nd after an unlikely 1-1 draw in the second match.

Rankings (last month's positions in brackets)

1. (1) Spain

2. (2) Netherlands

3. (3) Germany

4. (4) Uruguay

5. (7) England

6. (5) Brazil

7. (8) Portugal

8. (12) Croatia

9. (6) Italy

10. (10) Argentina