(REUTERS) – Belgium were crowned Fifa’s team of the year for the third time running after retaining top spot ahead of world champions France in the latest world rankings released on Thursday (Dec 10), football’s world governing body said.
While a total of 1,082 international games were played in 2019, the most since the ranking system was introduced in 1993, only 352 matches were held this year – the fewest since 1987 – due to the disruption caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Roberto Martinez’s Belgium won six of their eight games this year as they booked their place in next year’s Uefa Nations League finals.
The top four remained unchanged, with Brazil and England retaining their third and fourth ranking respectively.
Portugal moved up to fifth, while both Spain (sixth) and Argentina (seventh) improved two places compared to last year.
Hungary (40th) were the most improved side in the rankings this year, having gained 44 points and 12 places to break into the top 50.
Marco Rossi’s side lost just once in eight matches to qualify for the Euro 2020 Finals, which have been postponed until June-July next year due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Rounding up the top 10 in the world are Uruguay, Mexico and Italy. The next 10 spots were occupied by Croatia, Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, Colombia, Switzerland, Chile, Wales, Poland and Senegal, the highest-ranked African side.
Japan were the top-placed Asian Football Confederation team on 27th, followed by Iran (29th), South Korea (38th), Australia (41st) and the 2022 World Cup hosts Qatar (58th).
Among South-east Asian sides, Vietnam (93rd) – the AFF Championship holders – led the standings. They were followed by Thailand (111th), Philippines (124th), Myanmar (137th), Malaysia (153rd), Singapore (158th), Cambodia and Indonesia (both 173rd), Laos (188th), Brunei (191st) and Timor-Leste (197th).