BUDAPEST, HUNGARY – While Belgium managed to claim the title of Team of the Year for the third consecutive time, Hungary was named this year’s “most improved side” with a 44-point gain in FIFA’s annual Ranking.
In eight matches played in 2020, the Magyarok lost just once, to Russia, which enabled them to gain 12 places and end the year in the top 50 (40th), their highest ranking since 2016.
Other notable climbers this year were Ecuador (56th, + 41 points compared to December 2019), Malta (176th, + 32 points), Brazil (3rd, + 31 points), and Equatorial Guinea (134th, + 31 points). Burundi (138th), meanwhile, picked up 29 points and made the most significant move in terms of places, ascending 13 positions.
During their impressive run, Hungary notably won their Nations League group, clinched promotion to the competition’s top flight, and qualified for the Euro finals next summer, after impressively fighting back to beat Iceland in their qualifying play-offs.
“A real carnival awaits Hungarian football, with Euro 2020, the European Under 21 Championship, and now Nations League League A coming up. I’m immensely proud to be part of this success. It’s an honour to play any part,” summed up Hungary forward Kevin Varga after winning their Nations League group last month.
Hungary will kick off 2021 with a World Cup qualifier against Poland in March.
Hungary will hope to capitalize on their fantastic year when they face the dreaded Group F at the Euro finals, composed of European champions Portugal, World champions France, and 2014 World champions Germany, with the (slight) advantage of playing two games at home in Budapest, one of the twelve host cities of the tournament, scheduled to be held from June 11 to July 11, 2021.
With Budapest’s 68,000-seat Puskás Aréna hosting three group games and one round of 16 game, Hungarian football fans have indeed a lot to look forward to.
Poland (19th) remains Central Europe’s highest ranked nation, followed by Slovakia (34th), who also secured its seat next summer’s Euros, but was relegated in the Nations League. The Czech Republic (42nd) ranks last of the four, despite also winning its Nations League group and clinching promotion to the competition’s top flight.
For only the second time in history, all four Visegrad nations will compete at the European Championship together next summer.