It’s now official: the Netherlands have moved to the top spot in the FIFA world rankings. The Dutch took the lead at the expense of world and European champions Spain on Wednesday without playing a match since early June.
[media:factfile]Despite their friendly against England being cancelled two weeks ago, the Dutch profited from Spain's loss to Italy to rise to the head of the latest rankings, which were released on Wednesday.
It is the first time the Netherlands have ever been the world's number one ranked side, and now hold the position which Spain took a year ago after beating the Dutch in the 2010 World Cup final.
The Dutch became the seventh team to head the rankings since they were introduced in 1993, after Argentina, Brazil, France, Germany, Italy and Spain. Unlike those other countries, Holland has never been world champions. Oranje played three World Cup finals, but lost them all (2-1 to Germany in 1974, 3-1 against Argentina in 1978 and 1-0 to Spain last year).
The Netherlands are currently leading Euro 2012 group E with a perfect record. They are close to qualifying for next year’s European Championships in Ukraine and Poland. A home win next week against San Marino will be enough to earn them a berth at the finals.
The man widely credited with Holland’s recent successful spell is Bert van Marwijk, the country’s most successful national coach ever. The Dutch suffered only two defeats out of 38 matches played since Van Marwijk’s took the helm in August 2008.