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By Martin Graham | 7th Apr 2023
Lionel Messi’s Argentina are now the FIFA number one team for the first time in six years following the completion of the March international break.
The last time they were in this position was in March 2017. Since then, they have fallen to as low as 12th on the rankings. Their highest position until the April 2023 rankings were released was second, a position which they held while watching Belgium, France and Brazil alternate as the world number one team.
Not even their successes at the 2020 Copa America in Brazil and the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar could see them top the international men’s rankings. However, strong performances in the March international break against lower ranked teams Curacao and Panama made a case for the three-time World champions.
Lionel Scaloni’s team beat Panama 2 – 0 and Curacao 7 – 0 in international friendlies played in March. This helped them dethrone Brazil, who were number one. France, the number three team, moved above Brazil into the second spot for their incredible 2022 FIFA World Cup and their performances during the March international break.
A 1 – 0 victory in Ireland and a 4 – 0 thrashing of Netherlands in their 2024 UEFA European Championship qualifiers saw them leapfrog Brazil, who lost 2 – 1 to Morocco in their friendly game.
Belgium remain fourth on the rankings and England remains fifth. Netherlands, Croatia, Italy, Portugal and Spain complete the top 10 in that order.
The biggest jump was by the Central African Republic, who moved up 10 places into the 122nd spot. On their continent, Morocco remains king, sitting untouched in 11th place while Senegal, holders of the African Cup of Nations, are all the way down in 19th.
The United States Men’s National team are sat in 13th as the highest ranked CONCACAF team, two ahead of rivals Mexico, who are in 15th. Germany are at an all time low of 14th from the past decade following their incredible drop since after their 2014 FIFA World Cup triumph.
Argentina are currently riding on the wave of their recent success. Messi, the face of the nation’s football, is currently at his highest although the 35-year-old is not enjoying himself at club level at the moment. They will, however, take solace from bagging most of the awards at the FIFA The Best awards that were held in January.
The Paris Saint-Germain forward won the men’s best player award, and he was joined on the podium by Emiliano Martinez and Lionel Scaloni, who both won the best goalkeeper and best manager awards.
The Argentina fans also won the best fans award at the event, to cap a very successful rise for the Albiceleste.