- Messi inspired Albiceleste to glory in Qatar
- Selecao crashed out in the quarter-finals
- Points system used to determine rankings
WHAT HAPPENED? Lionel Messi inspired the Albiceleste to a first global crown since 1986 as he finally landed football’s ultimate prize, with Lionel Scaloni’s side prevailing on penalties at the end of an epic final encounter with France. That success has been enough to lift the South American nation up to second in the world rankings, but it is Brazil that retain the No.1 spot despite suffering a quarter-final defeat to Croatia in the Middle East.
WHY ARE BRAZIL TOP & NOT ARGENTINA? In 2021, FIFA revealed that a new set of algorithms would be used when determining world rankings. The Elo method sees points picked up during every game associated with a FIFA-recognised competition, rather an average being taken from a run of fixtures. Less emphasis is now placed on friendlies, with tournament outings considered – quite rightly – to be more important.
FIFA rules also dictate that wins inside 90 minutes are deserving of greater point hauls than those which require extra time and penalties – with Argentina winning two shootouts en route to glory in Qatar. The Albiceleste also suffered a shock defeat to Saudi Arabia in their opening game, with that setback against low-ranked opposition costing them 39 points.
Brazil, meanwhile, won three games and lost two at the World Cup, while also boasting a comfortable lead over geographical neighbours prior to FIFA’s latest flagship event getting underway. They would have been knocked from top spot had Argentina won their two shootout games inside regulation time, but that was not the case and no extra points are awarded for winning competitions – which has also worked against a team with World Cup, Copa America and Finalissima triumphs to its name over the last 18 months.
THE BIGGER PICTURE: The rest of the FIFA top 10 is made up of dethroned 2018 world champions France, out-of-sorts Belgium, England, the Netherlands, Croatia, reigning European champions Italy, Portugal and Spain.