Germany retains lead atop pre-World Cup FIFA rankings

Germany's Toni Kroos, left, Thomas Muller, centre, and Mats Hummels. (Christophe Ena/AP)

ZURICH — Host nation Russia will kick off next week’s World Cup as the lowest-ranked of the 32 teams in the tournament.

FIFA’s monthly rankings has Russia dropping four places to No. 70, below Saudi Arabia at 67.

The two lowest-ranked teams open the World Cup at Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow next Thursday.

Defending champion Germany will start No. 1, retaining its lead over Brazil, Belgium, Portugal and Argentina in an unchanged top five. No. 10 Spain dropped two places.

Chile, at No. 9, is ranked highest of teams not at the World Cup. Non-qualifiers the Netherlands, Wales and Italy are also in the top 20.

Canada moved up one spot to No. 70. Mexico is the top CONCACAF nation at No. 15, while Tunisia is Africa’s best at No. 21. No. 36 Australia is the best Asian confederation team.

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