Cyprus Mail
Football Sport

Belgium top year-end world rankings for third straight time

Belgium Vs San Marino
epa07911236 Belgium's Romelu Lukaku (2-R) celebrates with teammates scoring the 4-0 lead during the UEFA EURO 2020 Group I qualifying soccer match between Belgium and San Marino at the King Baudouin stadium in Brussels, Belgium, 10 October 2019. EPA-EFE/STEPHANIE LECOCQ

Belgium were crowned FIFA’s team of the year for the third straight time after retaining the top spot ahead of world champions France in the latest world rankings released on Thursday, soccer’s world governing body said.

While a total of 1,082 international games were played in 2019, the most since the rankings 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 has been postponed until June-July next year due to COVID-19.

Cyprus are ranked 100th.

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