Brazil will be top-ranked team at World Cup in Qatar

Oct 5, 2022, 2:20 PM | Updated: Oct 6, 2022, 2:21 am
Belgium's Kevin De Bruyne, right, and Belgium's Axel Witsel during the Nations League soccer match ...

Belgium's Kevin De Bruyne, right, and Belgium's Axel Witsel during the Nations League soccer match between Belgium and Wales at the King Baudouin Stadium in Brussels, Thursday, Sept. 22, 2022. (AP Photo/Geert Vanden Wijngaert)

(AP Photo/Geert Vanden Wijngaert)

ZURICH (AP) — Brazil will go to this year’s World Cup as the top-rated team after extending its lead over second-place Belgium in the latest FIFA rankings released Thursday.

Brazil won its two warmup games in September — against Ghana and Tunisia — while Belgium lost to the Netherlands in one of its two Nations League games.

Argentina stayed at No. 3 and 2018 World Cup champion France is still at No. 4.

The World Cup in Qatar starts on Nov. 20.

Host Qatar will be the 50th-ranked team, just ahead of No. 51 Saudi Arabia. Ghana will be the lowest ranked team at No. 61.

Group B at the World Cup is the strongest by rankings with all four teams in the top 20 — No. 5 England, No. 16 United States, No. 19 Wales and No. 20 Iran.

Italy rose one place to No. 6 and is the highest-ranked team that failed to qualify for the World Cup, missing back-to-back editions. Spain fell one place to No. 7, with Netherlands, Portugal and Denmark unchanged to complete the top 10.

Germany, the 2014 champion, is No. 11, just ahead of 2018 finalist Croatia.

Also, Russia rose two places to No. 33 despite not playing a recognized game in 2022 because the national team was suspended following the country’s invasion of Ukraine.

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Brazil will be top-ranked team at World Cup in Qatar