So another World Cup campaign kicked off this weekend and England began as many would expect in a match against a side ranked 141st in the world. A 5-0 victory away at Moldova, without Wayne Rooney or Ashley Cole is the side's largest international victory for four years, and it seems Roy Hodgson's side are in the driving seat for qualification in a rather modest group.
The same success was not repeated by any of the other nations however, with Scotland, Wales, and N. Ireland all failing to score, and with the latter two on the end of 2-0 defeats at the hands of Belgium and Russia respectively. Although, given the quality of their opposition compared to Scotland's Serbian opponents, who saw out a 0-0 draw on Saturday, the Scots are perhaps more guilty of not achieving a better result.
The current fifa rankings stand with England in 3rd, Wales 45th and Scotland 47th, with a considerable gap to 129th where N.Ireland are ranked. Whilst some people may argue that England's ranking as the third best nation in world football is not merited, it could also be argued that Northern Ireland's ranking, which sees them behing nations such as Chad and St. Kitts and Nevis, is also unfair, for the opposite reason. Whatever the rankings state, it remains true that whilst for England qualification for the World Cup and Euros is a pre-requisite, for the other home nations it is more of an optimistic hope. Whilst Scotland have enjoyed tournament football in the last 20 years, Wales haven't since 1958, and whilst the Rep. of Ireland joined England at Euro 2012, N. Ireland have never been to a major tournament.
With only one game played in this campaign, it would be perhaps too early to write off the home nations straight away, but depsite the large numbers of premiership players that reside in the ranks of these nations, there is a long way to go before they should think about booking their tickets to Rio.