Miserable slide down the FIFA Rankings continues
After two disappointing UEFA Euro 2020 qualifying losses to Italy and Armenia, Greece dropped nine places down to 52nd position in the FIFA Rankings, a statistic which is another clear signal where the national team is heading.
This is only the third time since 1993 when the Greek national team has fallen lower than 50th in the FIFA Rankings. In 1998, the Ethniki Omada fell to 53rd position, before the team dropped to 57th in 2001.
To put things into perspective, Greece currently languish behind Congo and just ahead of Montenegro, Jamaica and Qatar.
Given the players which Greece possess at this moment in time, it’s completely unacceptable for the country to slip lower than 50th spot. Many players such as Odisseas Vlachodimos, Kostas Manolas, Sokratis Papastathopoulos, Andreas Samaris and Anastasios Donis are leading figures for their respective clubs across some of Europe’s best championships, but they consistently underperform at international level. Greece have already missed two consecutive major competitions, and if the terrible performances against Italy and Armenia are anything to go by, that miserable streak won’t be snapped anytime soon. The Greeks are five points behind second-placed Finland in Group J of UEFA Euro 2020 qualifying.
Greece climbed as high as eighth in the FIFA Rankings in April 2008 and October 2011 and were always in the top 20 until 2013.
Unfortunately, the rapid downward spiral began after the successful 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil and Fernando Santos’ departure from his position of head coach, with the team conceding embarrassing defeats on a regular basis. In qualifying for the 2018 FIFA World Cup, the Ethniki showed signs of promise at times, but the players were outclassed by Croatia in the ensuing playoffs. Under the leadership of the much-criticized Michael Skibbe, Greece reached 43rd position in the rankings, but the team has hit a new rock bottom with Angelos Anastasiadis at the helm.
The Greeks are currently 52nd in the FIFA rankings and 30th in the UEFA rating.
Shocking management from the Hellenic Football Federation (EPO) has resulted in the national team completely falling to pieces. Following the shocking loss to Armenia in Athens, Sokratis Papastathopoulos requested for immediate changes to be made to the Ethniki Omada set-up, and it remains to be seen if the EPO will listen to his pleas. The first step is sorting the messy situation with Anastasiadis, who has appears to have well and truly lost the dressing room with veterans leading a potential revolt. Greece’s next European Qualifiers are scheduled for September against Finland and Liechtenstein.
If the Ethniki’s struggles continue and their place in the rankings worsens, or even remains the same, it could have major repercussions for the 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifiers.
The FIFA Rankings are typically used to seed teams for the draws in World Cup qualifying. With Greece continuing to fall in the rankings, the nation could very well be placed in pot four for the next World Cup qualifying draw. However, the second edition of the UEFA Nations League could be used to seed teams for the World Cup qualifying draw, and this was the case for the Euro 2020 qualifying when Greece were placed in pot four due to a third- finish in their respective League C group.
Here is a graph displaying Greece’s positioning in the FIFA Rankings since 1993: