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Final FIFA rankings of 2018 released

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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

1. Belgium
2. France
3. Brazil
4. Croatia
5. England
6. Portugal
7. Uruguay
8. Switzerland
9. Spain
10. Denmark
11. Argentina
12. Colombia
13. Chile
14. Sweden
14. Netherlands
16. Germany
17. Mexico
18. Italy
19. Wales
20. Poland
21. Peru
22. Austria
23. Senegal
24. Romania
25. USA

USMNT at 23 in latest FIFA Rankings; Belgium top, England into Top Five

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The United States men’s national team slipped a spot to 23 in the latest FIFA Rankings.

Sandwiched between Tunisia and Austria, the USMNT remains three points below their average spot of 20.

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The spot is four higher than the less celebrated but more trusted ELO Ratings, which has the U.S. at 27 (five spots higher than it was a year ago after the World Cup qualifying failure in Couva).

Belgium moves out of its tie with France for the top spot in the FIFA Rankings, while Brazil is third and England moves into the Top Five.

The biggest riser in the Top 50 is Russia (up five spots to 41). Northern Ireland and Democratic Republic of Congo each dropped six spots to Nos. 34 and 46, respectively.

Mexico drops a spot to 16th, while Canada rises three to 76.

FIFA to use Elo rankings for future tournament seeding

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FIFA’s quirky rankings system to rate 211 men’s national teams and decide seeding in World Cup draws is getting a reboot.

FIFA says it approved a new formula which rewards teams for playing more games, and it takes effect in the post-World Cup ranking on July 19.

The new formula is “eliminating the potential for ranking manipulation.” The current system in place since 1993 lets teams boost their status by avoiding friendly games.

Now, teams will gain or lose points from their existing points total with each result. More weight will be given to competitive games over friendlies.

Germany is the top-ranked team when the World Cup kicks off Thursday in Moscow.

USMNT falls back to No. 25 in latest FIFA Rankings

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The U.S. Men’s National Team rounds out the top 25 teams ranked by FIFA in the world soccer governing body’s latest rankings.

FIFA released its March rankings Thursday morning, with Northern Ireland jumping over the USMNT to put the U.S. back at No. 25. It’s the lowest spot for the U.S. since 2016 when it fell to No. 28. England remained at No. 16 in the rankings.

The top five of the rankings remained unchanged with Germany leading followed by Brazil, Portugal, Argentina and Belgium. Poland jumped up to No. 6 in a tie with Spain, and then Switzerland, France and Chile round out the top 10.

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Six teams in the top 25 missed out on the 2018 World Cup in Russia. The USMNT, Northern Ireland, the Netherlands, Wales, Italy and Chile.

Brazil leads unchanged top 20 in FIFA rankings

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ZURICH (AP) Brazil leads an unchanged top 20 in the FIFA rankings.

None of the leading South American and European national teams played in April, but Brazil extended its lead over second-place Argentina because previous matches changed in value.

FIFA weighs results over a four-year cycle with more value given to games played in the past year.

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World Cup winner Germany is third. Chile, the two-time defending Copa America champion, and Colombia complete the top five.

World Cup host Russia is unchanged at No. 61, though is playing only friendlies while rivals play higher-value qualifying games.

The next rankings will be published on June 1, ahead of World Cup qualifiers and the Confederations Cup in Russia.