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Brazil pass Germany in FIFA rankings; Switzerland, Poland in top five

Michael Ballack calls on Germany's young players to step up and replace the team's retired stars ahead of the World Cup.

Brazil are back on top of the FIFA rankings, replacing World Cup holders Germany.

Brazil haven't played a game since June, while Germany were last in action a month ago when they beat Chile to collect the Confederations Cup in Russia.

The FIFA rankings are based on results over a four-year period.

Argentina retained third place, Switzerland rose to fourth -- their highest position since the first rankings 24 years go -- and Poland moved into an all-time best fifth.

The United States climbed nine...

 By John Duerden

Lukas Podolski shines for Vissel Kobe, helps J.League's global brand

ESPN FC's Jason Dasey and Dez Corkhill discuss their early impressions of Lukas Podolski at Japanese side, Vissel Kobe.
Lukas Podolski struck twice on his J-League debut as Vissel Kobe eased to victory over Omiya Ardija.

Lukas Podolski has started his Japanese career with a bang. If the German forward continues in the same vein, the J.League is going to have its biggest star since its heady heyday of the 1990s.

With the Chinese Super League hogging the global headlines with its world-famous recruits, Podoski hit back for Japan on his debut last weekend.

Fans had been waiting for months for the ex-FC Koln junior to arrive, and it was worth it. As he finally turned out for Vissel Kobe, he scored twice, with both goals...

 By Paul Murphy

Bayern Munich will benefit in Bundesliga from Singapore ICC - Klose

Tom Starke talks to ESPN FC about Chelsea's title chances and how James Rodriguez will fare at Bayern.
Bayern boss Carlo Ancelotti is pleased with the club's preseason trip to Singapore and views it as a positive experience.
Jason Dasey and PJ Roberts break down James Rodriguez's contributions in Bayern Munich's 3-2 win over Chelsea.
Miroslav Klose in Singapore 2017
Miroslav says Asian preseason tours should be viewed as a blessing and not a burden.

Bayern Munich legend Miroslav Klose insists that preseason tours to distant destinations are more than a promotional exercise, and should be no barrier to success in the modern game.

The top scorer of all time in World Cup finals believes there is much to be gained through team bonding, and suggests that past experience proves that matches on the other side of the world should not harm performance levels.

His comments come as Bayern hit back at Bundesliga rivals RB Leipzig who said they preferred...

 By Paul Murphy

Miroslav Klose backs Antonio Conte to make Antonio Rudiger a better player

SINGAPORE -- Miroslav Klose believes that Chelsea boss Antonio Conte will get the best out of Antonio Rudiger as Germany build towards the 2018 World Cup.

Klose says that Rudiger, signed from Roma this summer, can only benefit from playing under a head coach who knows how to organise a defence.

"One thing that's good for Rudiger at Chelsea is that he is playing under Antonio Conte, who is a phenomenal coach," former Germany striker Klose told ESPN FC. "This will definitely help his development.

"It's...

Borussia Dortmund's Marco Reus hopes to hit full fitness in 2018

Marco Reus was injured as Borussia Dortmund won the DFB Pokal in May.

Borussia Dortmund winger Marco Reus is determined to recover his full fitness in 2018 as he sets his sights on the World Cup.

Germany international Reus, 28, has suffered with a succession of injuries in recent years and is currently recovering from knee surgery after sustaining a partial tear of the anterior cruciate ligament during the DFB Pokal final in May.

He is set to miss a significant period at the start of the season but hopes to be at his best when the Bundesliga resumes after the winter...