Despite outclassing the defending champion France via a penalty shootout in the final of the 2022 FIFA World Cup and winning its third world title in Qatar, the Lionel Messi-led Argentina was not given the no. 1 position in the following editions of the FIFA Ranking. Nevertheless, things finally took a turn in the world champion’s favour, after the latest standing showed that La Albiceleste had reclaimed the top spot after it last achieved the incredible feat six years ago.
The Deserving World No. 1
Argentina came to the first FIFA World Cup ever to be held in a Middle-East state with the second-best winning streak in men’s international football (36 games), but suffered a shocking defeat to Saudi Arabia in its opening Group C match. Luis Scaloni’s men then won all of their following matches in the tournament, including two in the group against Mexico and Poland as well as four in the knockout round (Australia, Netherlands, Croatia and France) on their way to winning La Albiceleste’s third World Cup Trophy. The impressive comeback ended the Argentine’s 36 years of long wait for another World Cup victory and elevated Messi’s status to the best player ever in the history of football.
Since becoming the world champion, Argentina continued to impress at international stage in 2023, emerging victorious in two international friendlies, namely a 2-0 comfortable win over Panama and a 7-0 thrashing against Curaçao. These matches saw the world cup-winning captain Messi accomplish major achievements such as his 800th career goal for club and country as well as his 100th goal for La Albiceleste.
Argentina last reached the summit of the FIFA Ranking back in 2017, before the team dropped to a low of 12th following an early knockout round departure in the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia (A 4-3 defeat to France in the round of 16). Nonetheless, with the team’s recent winning streaks and team performances, it is only fair that Argentina earned all the rights to return to the no. 1 standing of the FIFA Ranking.
Argentina and France Leapfrogged Brazil
The previous holder of the top spot of the FIFA Ranking was none other than Argentina’s fierce South American rival Brazil, which was eliminated by Croatia in the 2022 FIFA World Cup Quarterfinal and succumbed to a surprise loss to 2022 FIFA World Cup Semifinalist Morocco in a friendly match last month. These results also opened the door to 2022 FIFA World Cup Runner-Up France to capture the no. 2 ranking of the newly-published FIFA Ranking.
France, which failed to defend its 2018 FIFA World Cup Trophy in Qatar last year, won the first two matches of the 2024 UEFA Euro Qualifiers. The Bleus, now captained by 24-year-old Paris Saint-Germain forward Kylian Mbappé, beat Netherlands and Republic of Ireland with 4-0 and 1-0 score lines respectively. These important victories allowed them to gain an enormous 15.06 points and propelled themselves to the second spot of the latest FIFA Ranking.
Elsewhere in the standing, notable countries which gained improvements were Senegal (18th), Sweden (22nd), Serbia (25th), Wales (26th) and Tunisia (28th) while popular countries which suffered a dip included Denmark (19th), Poland (23rd), Korea Republic (27th), Australia (29th) and Ukraine (30th).
After going down to an quarterfinal exit in the 2022 FIFA World Cup, Brazil is looking to change things up for the next major competitions. The Seleção Canarinha is now seeking the service of Carlo Ancelotti as the next head coach, with the Italian himself confirming the news.