Belgium tops first FIFA rankings since pandemic shutdown

The first FIFA men’s world rankings for five months were still led by Belgium on Thursday after the shutdown of European teams during the coronavirus pandemic ended in September. Belgium leads an unchanged top four nations from 2018 World Cup winner France, Brazil — which has yet to play in 2020 — and England.

Portugal, the reigning European and UEFA Nations League champion, rose two places to No. 5.

Rankings after the November international break will decide seedings when FIFA draws the European qualifying groups for the 2022 World Cup in early December.

The 10 highest-ranked European teams will be top-seeded in groups where only the winner will advance directly to the finals tournament in Qatar. Three more teams will qualify through playoffs scheduled in March 2022.

Currently, Germany is the ninth-best European ranked No. 14, and No. 15 Switzerland would take the last top-seeded place in the draw. Denmark is next at No. 16.

Senegal is the top-ranked African nation at No. 20, and No. 28 Japan leads Asian confederation teams.

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World Cup host Qatar is ranked No. 55.

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