The world champions, who qualified to defend their crown in Russia by winning all ten of their qualifiers and have been unbeaten in 15 matches in 2017, succeed Argentina and Belgium, who were ‘Team of the Year’ in 2016 and 2015 respectively. Germany held on to top spot in a largely unchanged Ranking that reflects the fact that just 41 ‘A’ internationals have been played since the previous edition, and that few of those involved teams at the top end of the table.
There is, however, some notable movement further down the order, with Vanuatu (157th, up 28), Vietnam (112th, up 13), Mongolia (187th, up 12), Myanmar (140th, up 10), and Fiji (168th, up 10) all registering double-digit climbs. Palestine (80th, up 2) and Luxembourg (83rd, up 1) also have reason to celebrate, having risen to their highest positions since the Ranking’s inception.
And while Denmark (12th, unchanged) have not advanced in this latest table, they have the distinction of ending 2017 as the year’s ‘Best Mover’ – having made a bigger points improvement on last year than any other team. Age Hareide’s side, who registered 456 Ranking points across the year, are unbeaten in 14 months, a run that culminated in their biggest win of 2017: a 5-1 play-off second-leg win away to Republic of Ireland that secured their place at the 2018 FIFA World Cup™.
The best movers in other confederations, across the entire year, are Bolivia (49th, unchanged), Jamaica (54th, unchanged), Lebanon (85th, up two), Cameroon (45th, unchanged) and Solomon Islands (151st, down three). Lebanon, in fact, have risen 62 places over the course of 2017 – the third-biggest overall gain in 2017 behind Macedonia (76th, up 86) and Andorra (138th, up 65).
It is interesting to note, too, that UEFA (29, up one) and CAF (8, up one) have ended the year with more top-50 teams than they began – rises that have come at the expense of AFC (2, down two). The number of representatives from other confederations remains unchanged (CONMEBOL 8, CONCACAF 3, OFC 0).
The next FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking will be published on 18 January 2018.