Special Report

The Best Men's National Soccer Teams of 2022

Guillermo Legaria / Getty Images Sport via Getty Images

From November 20 to December 18, the sports world will be transfixed on the FIFA World Cup 2022, the premier event in soccer, held every four years. Thirty-two men’s national teams from across the globe will compete in Qatar, the host country. (The 2026 World Cup will be hosted by three countries – the U.S., Canada, and Mexico – with matches in 11 American cities.) 

To compile a list of the 50 best men’s soccer national teams – out of a total of 200 belonging to FIFA and 11 that are affiliated – 24/7 Tempo looked at FIFA’s own ranking. FIFA, or the Fédération Internationale de Football Association, is the professional soccer’s world governing body. (In 2015, the organization was involved in one of the scandals that rocked the sports world.)

National teams are ranked according to a complicated system based on the sum of points each has been awarded for all senior (or A-level) matches over the previous four years. The points are determined according to whether each match was a win or a draw, how important the match was (with World Cup matches worth more, for instance, than friendly games), and how strong the opposing team and its confederation were. 

Note that of the 50 teams listed, 18 did not qualify for the tournament. The 32 that did were split into eight groups of four teams each, decided by a drawing held in Qatar. As the host country, Qatar will kick off the event with the World Cup’s premiere match, playing against Ecuador.  However, Qatar’s odds of winning the Cup are low. It only qualified for the World Cup because it is hosting the event.

Click here to see the best men’s national soccer teams of 2022

This year, the best odds go to the highest ranking team, five-time winner Brazil – but no team is a sure bet, and anything can happen when the teams take the field. (Three soccer players, one of them a woman, number among the 40 most successful athletes of the 21st century.)

One thing is for certain: A lot of eyeballs will be glued to the matches. According to FIFA, a combined 3.572 billion viewers tuned in for the 2018 event. That number included 3.262 billion catching at least one minute of the coverage at home on TV, with another estimated 309.7 million viewing the matches on digital venues, or public areas, such as bars or restaurants. By comparison, NBC reported that this year’s Super Bowl between the Los Angeles Rams and the Cincinnati Bengals took in 112.3 million viewers on live TV as well as digital platforms.  

50. Qatar
> Total points in October: 1,439.89
> Total points in August: 1,441.97 (Rank: 48)
> World Cup group: Group A (automatically qualified as host nation)
> World Cup titles: 0

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49. Ireland
> Total points in October: 1,440.19
> Total points in August: 1,442.48 (Rank: 47)
> World Cup group: Did not qualify
> World Cup titles: 0

48. Côte d’Ivoire
> Total points in October: 1,443.06
> Total points in August: 1,435.91 (Rank: 52)
> World Cup group: Did not qualify
> World Cup titles: 0

47. Paraguay
> Total points in October: 1,448.77
> Total points in August: 1,440.13 (Rank: 50)
> World Cup group: Did not qualify
> World Cup titles: 0

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46. Mali
> Total points in October: 1,448.85
> Total points in August: 1,442.88 (Rank: 46)
> World Cup group: Did not qualify
> World Cup titles: 0

Source: Claudio Villa / Getty Images Sport via Getty Images

45. Turkey
> Total points in October: 1,460.14
> Total points in August: 1,475.13 (Rank: 42)
> World Cup group: Did not qualify
> World Cup titles: 0

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44. Ecuador
> Total points in October: 1,464.39
> Total points in August: 1,463.74 (Rank: 44)
> World Cup group: Group A
> World Cup titles: 0

Source: Dean Mouhtaropoulos / Getty Images Sport via Getty Images

43. Cameroon
> Total points in October: 1,471.44
> Total points in August: 1,484.95 (Rank: 38)
> World Cup group: Group G
> World Cup titles: 0

Source: Srdjan Stevanovic / Getty Images Sport via Getty Images

42. Norway
> Total points in October: 1,473.04
> Total points in August: 1,488.57 (Rank: 36)
> World Cup group: Did not qualify
> World Cup titles: 0

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Source: Guillermo Legaria / Getty Images Sport via Getty Images

41. Canada
> Total points in October: 1,475.00
> Total points in August: 1,473.82 (Rank: 43)
> World Cup group: Group F
> World Cup titles: 0

Source: Ian MacNicol / Getty Images Sport via Getty Images

40. Scotland
> Total points in October: 1,479.53
> Total points in August: 1,462.96 (Rank: 45)
> World Cup group: Did not qualify
> World Cup titles: 0

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Source: Getty Images / Getty Images Sport via Getty Images

39. Egypt
> Total points in October: 1,486.44
> Total points in August: 1,482.63 (Rank: 40)
> World Cup group: Did not qualify
> World Cup titles: 0

Source: Quinn Rooney / Getty Images Sport via Getty Images

38. Australia
> Total points in October: 1,488.72
> Total points in August: 1,483.73 (Rank: 39)
> World Cup group: Group D
> World Cup titles: 0

37. Algeria
> Total points in October: 1,489.10
> Total points in August: 1,480.59 (Rank: 41)
> World Cup group: Did not qualify
> World Cup titles: 0

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Source: Laszlo Szirtesi / Getty Images Sport via Getty Images

36. Hungary
> Total points in October: 1,492.20
> Total points in August: 1,486.76 (Rank: 37)
> World Cup group: Did not qualify
> World Cup titles: 0

Source: Mike Hewitt / Getty Images Sport via Getty Images

35. Czech Republic
> Total points in October: 1,492.21
> Total points in August: 1,502.90 (Rank: 32)
> World Cup group: Did not qualify
> World Cup titles: 0

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34. Austria
> Total points in October: 1,492.95
> Total points in August: 1,502.47 (Rank: 33)
> World Cup group: Did not qualify
> World Cup titles: 0

33. Russia
> Total points in October: 1,496.11
> Total points in August: 1,493.42 (Rank: 35)
> World Cup group: Did not qualify
> World Cup titles: 0

32. Nigeria
> Total points in October: 1,498.47
> Total points in August: 1,504.70 (Rank: 31)
> World Cup group: Did not qualify
> World Cup titles: 0

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Source: Mark Kolbe / Getty Images Sport via Getty Images

31. Costa Rica
> Total points in October: 1,503.59
> Total points in August: 1,500.06 (Rank: 34)
> World Cup group: Group E
> World Cup titles: 0

Source: Justin Setterfield / Getty Images Sport via Getty Images

30. Tunisia
> Total points in October: 1,507.54
> Total points in August: 1,507.86 (Rank: 30)
> World Cup group: Group D
> World Cup titles: 0

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29. Chile
> Total points in October: 1,509.61
> Total points in August: 1,514.86 (Rank: 29)
> World Cup group: Did not qualify
> World Cup titles: 0

Source: Chung Sung-Jun / Getty Images Sport via Getty Images

28. South Korea
> Total points in October: 1,530.30
> Total points in August: 1,526.02 (Rank: 28)
> World Cup group: Group H
> World Cup titles: 0

Source: Adam Nurkiewicz / Getty Images Sport via Getty Images

27. Ukraine
> Total points in October: 1,536.99
> Total points in August: 1,542.79 (Rank: 27)
> World Cup group: Did not qualify
> World Cup titles: 0

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Source: Michael Regan / Getty Images Sport via Getty Images

26. Poland
> Total points in October: 1,548.59
> Total points in August: 1,546.18 (Rank: 26)
> World Cup group: Group C
> World Cup titles: 0

25. Sweden
> Total points in October: 1,553.33
> Total points in August: 1,563.44 (Rank: 20)
> World Cup group: Did not qualify
> World Cup titles: 0

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Source: Alex Grimm / Getty Images Sport via Getty Images

24. Japan
> Total points in October: 1,559.54
> Total points in August: 1,554.69 (Rank: 24)
> World Cup group: Group E
> World Cup titles: 0

Source: Ronald Martinez / Getty Images Sport via Getty Images

23. Peru
> Total points in October: 1,561.01
> Total points in August: 1,562.24 (Rank: 21)
> World Cup group: Did not qualify
> World Cup titles: 0

22. Morocco
> Total points in October: 1,563.50
> Total points in August: 1,558.35 (Rank: 23)
> World Cup group: Group F
> World Cup titles: 0

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Source: Srdjan Stevanovic / Getty Images Sport via Getty Images

21. Serbia
> Total points in October: 1,563.62
> Total points in August: 1,549.53 (Rank: 25)
> World Cup group: Group G
> World Cup titles: 0

20. Iran
> Total points in October: 1,564.61
> Total points in August: 1,558.64 (Rank: 22)
> World Cup group: Group B
> World Cup titles: 0

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Source: Dan Mullan / Getty Images Sport via Getty Images

19. Wales
> Total points in October: 1,569.82
> Total points in August: 1,582.13 (Rank: 19)
> World Cup group: Group B
> World Cup titles: 0

Source: Getty Images / Getty Images Sport via Getty Images

18. Senegal
> Total points in October: 1,584.38
> Total points in August: 1,584.59 (Rank: 18)
> World Cup group: Group A
> World Cup titles: 0

Source: Thearon W. Henderson / Getty Images Sport via Getty Images

17. Colombia
> Total points in October: 1,611.04
> Total points in August: 1,604.07 (Rank: 17)
> World Cup group: Did not qualify
> World Cup titles: 0

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Source: Aitor Alcalde / Getty Images Sport via Getty Images

16. United States
> Total points in October: 1,627.48
> Total points in August: 1,635.01 (Rank: 14)
> World Cup group: Group B
> World Cup titles: 0

Source: Christian Kaspar-Bartke / Getty Images Sport via Getty Images

15. Switzerland
> Total points in October: 1,635.92
> Total points in August: 1,621.43 (Rank: 16)
> World Cup group: Group G
> World Cup titles: 0

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14. Uruguay
> Total points in October: 1,638.71
> Total points in August: 1,640.95 (Rank: 13)
> World Cup group: Group H
> World Cup titles: 2

Source: Ronald Martinez / Getty Images Sport via Getty Images

13. Mexico
> Total points in October: 1,644.89
> Total points in August: 1,649.57 (Rank: 12)
> World Cup group: Group C
> World Cup titles: 0

Source: Christian Hofer / Getty Images Sport via Getty Images

12. Croatia
> Total points in October: 1,645.64
> Total points in August: 1,632.15 (Rank: 15)
> World Cup group: Group F
> World Cup titles: 0

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11. Germany
> Total points in October: 1,650.21
> Total points in August: 1,658.96 (Rank: 11)
> World Cup group: Group E
> World Cup titles: 4

10. Denmark
> Total points in October: 1,666.57
> Total points in August: 1,665.47 (Rank: 10)
> World Cup group: Group D
> World Cup titles: 0

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Source: Octavio Passos / Getty Images Sport via Getty Images

9. Portugal
> Total points in October: 1,676.56
> Total points in August: 1,678.65 (Rank: 9)
> World Cup group: Group H
> World Cup titles: 0

8. Netherlands
> Total points in October: 1,694.51
> Total points in August: 1,679.41 (Rank: 8)
> World Cup group: Group A
> World Cup titles: 0

7. Spain
> Total points in October: 1,715.22
> Total points in August: 1,716.93 (Rank: 6)
> World Cup group: Group E
> World Cup titles: 1

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6. Italy
> Total points in October: 1,726.14
> Total points in August: 1,713.86 (Rank: 7)
> World Cup group: Did not qualify
> World Cup titles: 4

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

5. England
> Total points in October: 1,728.47
> Total points in August: 1,737.46 (Rank: 5)
> World Cup group: Group B
> World Cup titles: 1

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4. France
> Total points in October: 1,759.78
> Total points in August: 1,764.85 (Rank: 4)
> World Cup group: Group D (automatically qualified as defending champion)
> World Cup titles: 2

3. Argentina
> Total points in October: 1,773.88
> Total points in August: 1,770.65 (Rank: 3)
> World Cup group: Group C
> World Cup titles: 3

Source: Dean Mouhtaropoulos / Getty Images Sport via Getty Images

2. Belgium
> Total points in October: 1,816.71
> Total points in August: 1,821.92 (Rank: 2)
> World Cup group: Group F
> World Cup titles: 0

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1. Brazil
> Total points in October: 1,841.30
> Total points in August: 1,837.56 (Rank: 1)
> World Cup group: Group G
> World Cup titles: 5

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