ESPN’s Soccer Power Index, developed with statistical guru Nate Silver, ranks international soccer teams in a far more indicative fashion than FIFA. The formula now ranks Colombia is the world’s third best team, just behind Spain and Brazil and ahead of Germany and Argentina. They were ranked 19th just one month ago.
Colombia was among the world’s best teams heading into the World Cup. Following their performance there and the disastrous fallout, the team never truly recovered. They did win Copa America in 2001, though have not qualified for a World Cup since 1998. They were 54th in the FIFA rankings, as recently as June 2011 (now 22nd).
How did Colombia climb so high? Recent qualifier wins over Uruguay (11) and Chile (13) contributed. So have the recent exploits of their star striker, Falcao. SPI factors in individual club and international performances. Falcao has been on absolute tear. The Atletico Madrid man had two hat-tricks in five days heading into the international break, in a 4-0 win over Athletic Bilbao in La Liga and a 4-1 triumph over Chelsea in the UEFA Super Cup (The latter club was rather impressed). ”El Tigre,” as the kids are apt to call him, also had two goals and an assist in the two qualifiers.
Worth Noting: Three of the top four and eight of the top 13 teams are from outside Europe. The U.S. is 35th, five places below Bob Bradley’s Egypt.
[Photo via Getty]