CONMEBOL, stand up! South America’s soccer relevance has never been as strong as it is on Thursday, as the continent notched four of the top five slots in the new FIFA Men’s World Rankings. Not only that, but Brazil, the long-time powerhouse, nabbed the top spot on the rankings for the first time since 2010 on the heels of becoming the first team to earn qualification to the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
Brazil has been on a tear since replacing fired manager Dunga with Tite, racking up a +23 goal difference while remaining undefeated. They take over the top spot in the FIFA rankings from fellow CONMEBOL stalwarts Argentina, who has had a decidedly more mixed recent slate of games. Despite beating Chile 1-0 in Buenos Aires, captain Lionel Messi was suspended for four international matches for cursing out a referee at the end of the first half of that game. That was followed by an embarrassing 2-0 loss in Bolivia that has the 2014 World Cup Finalists in 5th place in the qualification cycle.
Speaking of Chile, La Roja occupy the 4th slot in the World Rankings, holding steady after the aforementioned loss to Argentina and a decisive 3-1 victory over Venezuela at home. Finally, the big climbers this time around are Colombia, who jumped from 7th to 5th on the back of a tight 1-0 win over Bolivia and a more dominant 2-0 victory over neighbors Ecuador. Los Cafeteros sit pretty for Russia qualification currently, with their 24 points after 14 games putting them in 2nd place behind already-qualified Brazil.
As for CONCACAF, the highest ranking nation is the Hex-leading El Tri of Mexico, who currently sit at 16th after a breezy 2-win qualifiers week. Just behind them at 20 and 23 are Costa Rica and the United States, with the latter climbing 7 spots after whomping Honduras 6-0 in San Jose and drawing Panama 1-1 in a tough away fixture in Panama City.