When the FIFA World Rankings came out on Thursday, Belgium continued to be ranked first in the world. With 1780 points, they in fact extended their lead over second-place France from 13 points to 25 points.
Belgium has been ranked number one in the world since September of 2018. Their number one world ranking came two months after finishing third (behind champion France and finalist Croatia at the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia).
Since the last major international soccer tournament, Belgium has posted an impressive record of 20 wins, two losses, and two draws. In the process, they have outscored their opponents 72-18. Belgium’s only losses in that time came in UEFA Nations League action, as they were beaten 5-2 to Switzerland on November 18, 2018, and 2-1 to England on October 11, 2020. Meanwhile, Belgium has had two ties in friendlies. They played the Netherlands to a 1-1 draw on October 16, 2018, and tied the Ivory Coast to a 1-1 on October 8, 2020.
However, one could make the argument that this is an unfortunate time for Belgium to be ranked number one in the world. That is because in 2020 we were to have the United European Football Association championship (better known as Euro 2020). This was to be the time that the soccer world could see all of the Belgian soccer stars and the Belgian National Team could silence their critics who might have questioned Belgium’s number one ranking after not winning the World Cup. But it was not played in 2020 because of coronavirus, and will hopefully be played in June of 2021 instead.
Who are the main contributors to Belgium’s number one status? The first reason is that there is a lot of depth at the striker position. There are five players on the Belgian national team with 15 or more international goals. They are Romelu Lukaku of Inter Milan (57 goals), captain Eden Hazard of Real Madrid (32 goals), Dries Mertens of Napoli, and Michy Batshuayi of Crystal Palace (21 goals each), and Christian Benteke of Crystal Palace (15 goals). Meanwhile, vice-captain Kevin De Bruyne of Manchester City has 20 caps in 78 games from the midfield position, and Belgium has played stingy defense as they have had a dozen shutouts since September of 2018.
However, there will constantly be critics until Belgium finally wins its first World Cup or European title. It won’t be until then that we clearly say that the Belgium soccer team is the world’s best.