In Brief

England face World Cup crisis as they slump in Fifa rankings

A dire World Cup in Brazil could cause problems for the Three Lions' 2018 qualifying campaign

England's dire World Cup has seen them plummet down the Fifa rankings to their lowest position for 18 years. Following their exit at the group stage of the tournament in Brazil Roy Hodgson's men are now ranked 20th in the world.

And the Three Lions now face a race against time to climb up the rankings ahead of the qualifying draw for the next World Cup. The current table rates England the 12th best side in Europe, behind the likes of Greece, Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina, and only nine teams will be seeded when the draw is made in July next year. If England are unseeded they will face a significantly tougher campaign to get to Russia, says The Guardian.

The last time England languished so far down the Fifa rankings was in February 1996 when they sank as low as 27 after their failure to qualify for the 1994 World Cup and before their more successful Euro 96 campaign.

In addition to some of the smaller European nations, England are now ranked below the USA, Costa Rica and Mexico.

Roy Hodgson's team are the biggest fallers in the new list, but other World Cup underachievers have also slipped. Spain and Portugal are both down seven places, sinking to eighth and 11th respectively and Italy have slumped to 14th. Brazil's catastrophic exit in the semi-finals sees them fall four places to seventh.

Unsurprisingly, world champions Germany are number one in the rankings and beaten finalists Argentina are second. Other big winners include the Netherland, who have leapt from 15th to third, and surprise quarter finalists Costa Rica who are also up 12 places to 16th. France and Belgium have also shot up the table thanks to their performances in Brazil.

Scotland remain 27th and Wales slip three places to 44th, Northern Ireland are up one spot at 89 while the Republic of Ireland are still ranked 70th.

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