The final FIFA rankings of 2018 have been released and although there haven’t been many changes due to no elite international games played in December, it is intriguing to see who have been on the rise and which nations have slumped over the past 12 months.
Belgium pipped France to top spot despite the latter beating them in the 2018 World Cup semifinal and then going on to win the competition.
Brazil sit in third, Croatia fourth and England fifth, as the Three Lions rose 10 places from 15th in December 2017. According to FIFA the biggest climbers in terms of points since December 2017 were reigning World Cup champs France, but Belgium beat them to top spot by a single point. Kosovo moved up the highest number of spots, as they gained 46 places on December last year.
The U.S. men’s national team finished the year in 25th, which wasn’t bad considering they didn’t play a single competitive game and had an interim head coach, Dave Sarachan, for the entire year as they waited to appoint Gregg Berhalter as their new boss. The USMNT’s last seven games were all against teams ranked above them in the standings, with only Peru outside of the top 20.
A young, experimental squad led by Sarachan lost to England, Brazil, Italy and Colombia in those matches, plus drew with France and Peru as well as grabbing 1-0 win against Mexico.
Below is a look at the top 25 teams in the world, as international action will resume for everyone in March when the next FIFA window rolls around.
The USMNT will of course be in action in January as Berhalter takes charge of his first camp and the U.S. will play friendlies against Panama and Costa Rica on Jan. 27 and Feb. 2 respectively.
FIFA world rankings – December 2018