FIFA World rankings Mexico

CHICAGO - On the day it kicks off its Gold Cup campaign against Cuba, Mexico fell from 23rd to 40th in July's edition of the FIFA rankings. It is El Tri's worst position since the rankings began in 1993, surpassing the previous low of 33rd in June 2009.

In the last month, countries such as Iran, Northern Ireland, Albania and Tunisia overtook a Mexico side that is enduring a difficult summer so far - a poor Copa America campaign in Chile has formed part of a run of seven games without a victory.

Many might shrug their shoulders and think: "So what? Why should a rankings table - that is widely derided - matter anyway?"

In many ways, it doesn't particularly and the ranking system is just another aspect of FIFA that needs reform. Mexico is a better side than some of the 39 countries above them, while the intricacies of the ranking system this month actually accentuated the drop way out of proportion.

Yet the rankings do have a shred of meaning because, overall, they show tendencies and it certainly doesn't look good to be so far down. If there was a World Cup tomorrow, the likes of Germany, Argentina, Chile, Spain, Brazil and even Belgium would be the favorites. All of those teams are in the top 12.

Mexico remains outside that group, in both the official rankings and any neutral appraisal of the status quo in international soccer. As much as it might be unfair that El Tri is in 40th place, it would be equally unjust for Mexico, for example, to be No. 10.

"The basic logic of these calculations is simple: any team that does well in world football wins points which enable it to climb the world ranking, " reads FIFA's explanation of the rankings.

For many reasons, the Gold Cup is a must-win for Mexico manager Miguel Herrera.

El Tri simply hasn't been that good over recent years and the worry has to be that Mexico is actually slipping the wrong way overall. CONCACAF nations may be catching Mexico up - as El Tri coach Miguel Herrera states regularly - but is Mexico closing the gap on the likes of Argentina and Germany?

With the Gold Cup now upon us, Mexico and Herrera have an opportunity to get the tide turning in the right direction.

The goal has to be to replicate what Chile has done over the last eight years. La Roja has just won the Copa America and can now genuinely be considered a world power, having never before been labeled as such. It would be a surprise if Chile isn't involved in the latter stages of Russia 2018, even this far out from the tournament.

The great hope for Mexico still lies in Liga MX clubs' youth systems and the youth national teams. There has been significant improvement and investment over the last decade and the fruits of that are only just starting to benefit the senior national team picture.

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