Malta ended 2021 in the 175th place as the last FIFA/ Coca-Cola World Ranking list for December was published on Thursday. An improvement of just one place over December 2020.
Throughout this calendar year, Malta played twelve matches. Twelve matches which brought mixed fortunes. In March, Malta played three qualifiers, losing 1-3 to Russia at Ta’ Qali, holding Slovakia in a 2-2 draw in Trnava and losing 0-3 to Croatia in Rijeka. Malta then played two friendly matches in May/June in Austria, losing 0-3 to Northern Ireland and 1-2 to Kosovo.
In September, Malta hosted Cyprus, winning 3-0 and then Malta lost 1-0 to Slovenia in Ljubljana and 2-0 to Russia in Moscow. Hosting Slovenia in October, Malta lost 0-4 but then earned a point in a 1-1 draw with Cyprus in Larnaca. The final two matches for Malta in November turned out really disappointing as Malta lost 1-7 to Croatia and 0-6 to Slovakia.
In 2022, Malta is due to play one or two friendly matches in March ahead of the UEFA Nations League qualifiers which kick-off in June. Early in June, Malta will play another friendly match before the first Nations League game against San Marino away from home on June 5. Malta then hosts Cyprus or Estonia on June 9 and San Marino on June 12. Malta plays the last game from the UEFA Nations League on September 23 away from home to Cyprus or Estonia. A game which should be followed by another friendly match a few days later.
Among the other European countries, Malta is placed 51st followed by Moldova (181), Liechtenstein (191), Gibraltar (203) and San Marino (210). The other possible opponents for Malta in the UEFA Nations League – Cyprus and Estonia are ranked 105th and 107th respectively
Meanwhile because of the Covid-19 pandemic, only 352 full internationals were played in 2020. While the quantity of games changed radically from one year to the next, the top ranked team in the FIFA/ Coca-Cola World Ranking has remained the same! For the fourth year in a row, Belgium (1st) end the calendar year in pole position, albeit only just ahead of Brazil (2nd) by 2.1 points. France (3rd) complete the podium for 2021.For their part, Canada (40th) are the year’s ‘Most Improved Side’ having picked up no fewer than 130.32 points over the last 12 months.
Winners of UEFA EURO 2020 and the Copa America 2021 respectively, Italy (6th + 115.77 points compared to December 2020) and Argentina (5th +108.51 points compared to December 2020), have also seen their points tally increase dramatically this year. The same goes for the USA (11th + 103.51 points compared to December 2020) and England (4th + 85.52 points compared to December 2020).