Friday, May 27, 2022

Top Ten Soccer Countries in 2018 – Whose The Best?

Soccer (football to everyone outside the United States) has been for generations seen as the World’s Sport. With players from all over the world representing nations whose fans fly club colours alongside their national banners, it is a reputation well deserved. Here, we’ll take a look at the top ten countries whose football passions run as hot as the sun, and whose cheers can be heard for miles around. Let’s see who ranks as the best soccer country in 2017!

10. Portugal

The Portuguese National Team holding up the 2016 UEFA Cup.
The Portuguese National Team holding up the 2016 UEFA Cup.

Most recently taking Wales out of the UEFA running with a 2-0 score, Portugal has a legacy spanning almost 100 years. Currently headed by coach Fernando Santos, the Portuguese have made 2 World Cup semifinal round appearances, and were runners up in the 2004 euro cup. Portugal has most recently took the title of champion for this years contest, narrowly beating out France in a breathtaking goal in the twentieth minute of Extra Time. Alongside the National Team, Portugal also houses over 15 professional teams, some of which have been active clubs since the 1880’s. Seeing as in recent years Portugal’s performance has had some upward momentum, it may very well reach higher into this list in the following years.

9. The Netherlands

The National team of the Netherlands in their trademark orange kit.
The National team of the Netherlands in their trademark orange kit.

While known for many other things, the Netherlands have been rocking the world of soccer since 1879. With 38 professional football clubs, soccer is by far the most popular sport and has a large pool of players to kit out in the national orange jersey. Having the reputation of the best national team to have never won a world cup, The Netherlands have taken home one Eurocup and appeared in the World Cup semifinals no less than 5 times. While they have yet to earn a world cup title or an Olympic gold medal, hopes are high for this team to change that in the near future.

8. Uruguay

The national team of Uruguay holding up their 15th Copa cup in 2011
The national team of Uruguay holding up their 15th Copa cup in 2011

Having its first club created in 1882 by an English teacher, Uruguay has an illustrious history in the sport. Having carried more tournament titles than any other country, 15 of them being the Western Hemisphere’s Copa America Cup. Surprisingly, between 1970 until 2010, this kicking powerhouse of a country did not manage to enter into a semifinals round of the World Cup, despite previously winning a pair of World Cups in decades past. Within the country itself, there is a century old rivalry that has culminated in 511 matches between the Club Nacional de Football and Club Atlético Peñarol in what has been dubbed the “Uruguay Classic”. Given that both teams combined have won nearly 90% of all national titles, it is a point of pride and contention within the countries, often bringing together communities as well as dividing families.

7. England

A classic image of the 1966 National team of England holding up their World Cup.
A classic image of the 1966 National team of England holding up their World Cup.

Having been the founders of the sport (some sources say as far back as in the 1100’s), it’s not a shock that England is a great country to play or simply love soccer. With the mere mention of some teams such as Manchester United, Arsenal and Liverpool F.C. being enough to spark feverent debate and the occasional riot, this is one of the few times the English people’s reputation for manners doesn’t quite line up. Despite being the creators of the sport, English teams have only won the World Cup once, but have three Olympic gold medals to their credit. With popular names such as Greaves, Shearer, and Beckham that have graced the roster of England to move onto other ventures, soccer will continue to grow if England has any say on the matter.

6. France

The French National team just before kickoff of a UEFA game.
The French National team just before kickoff of a UEFA game.

One of the few countries whose soccer teams aren’t just filled with international players but in fact has leagues within other smaller countries, France takes soccer very seriously. Having players from French League Soccer locations as far away as St. Martin does seem to give some advantages, as the national team have claimed one World Cup, two Confederation Cups, two Euro Cups and an Olympic gold medal for good measure. With literally tens of thousands of football clubs spanning around the world, France has established itself as a major player in the soccer world.

5. Spain

The National team of Spain holding up their UEFA cup in 2012.
The National team of Spain holding up their UEFA cup in 2012.

Spain’s much like England’s soccer teams are often seen as the gateway drugs of the soccer world for Americans. Teams like Real Madrid and Barcelona often are favorites of many fans who if asked, could not point to the home city of either team. Within Spain itself, to say that soccer is a way of life would be an understatement. In the past decades, soccer has gone from sport, to national spectacle, to heavily embroiled into community pride, national pride, and more than once into political affiliation. In fact, the first game between two of the country’s biggest clubs ( FC Madrid and Barcelona FC) was during a tournament specifically held to honor the coronation of King Alfonso XIII, in what later became the King’s Cup. As for international accolades, Spain can claim one World Cup, three Euro Cups and an Olympic gold medal.

4. Argentina

The 2011 Argentina National Team, with one of football's greats, Lionel Messi wearing the number 10 jersey.
The 2011 Argentina National Team, with one of football’s greats, Lionel Messi wearing the number 10 jersey.

Argentina has long been regarded as one of the premier destinations for soccer players and aficionados alike. With big names like Messi, Zanetti, Maradona all having called Argentina home, it is among the biggest producers of quality soccer players in the world. As per fans, nearly 90% of the nation pledges allegiance to one of many football clubs, which in turn own a multitude of stadiums. Within the capital of Buenos Aires alone there are 19 football stadiums, all of which regularly fill with the chants and cheers of thousands of fans. Argentina has a fairly full trophy case of 2 World Cups, 1 Confederations Cup, 14 Copa America Cups, and a pair of Olympic gold medals.

3. Italy

Italy's 2012 UEFA team, just as they were about to take the field in the finals match.
Italy’s 2012 UEFA team, just as they were about to take the field in the finals match.

According to citizen and Bishop alike, soccer is not the national sport of Italy, but the national religion. And, as many religions have been in the past, it is a religion that sometimes requires a bit of violence. Italy on the whole is remarkably peaceful, and admittedly even acts of soccer hooliganism outside the stadium are rare, but inside is often a very different story. This is especially true in matches against rivals Brazil, Germany and France, where according to multiple accounts in regard to the latter two, medieval rivalries never truly died; They were just transferred to the pitch. Much like England, Italy has carried a long history of games like soccer, tracing as far back as the ancient Romans with a game called Harpastum, which appears to have been a soccer/rugby hybrid. Almost as ancient has been the regional divisions within the country that make up the seven main teams, also referred to as the Seven Sisters: Milan, Roma, Fiorentia, Napoli, Lazio, Inter and Juventus. On the international scale, Italy has an impressive 4 World Cups, 1 Euro Cup and an Olympic gold medal.

2. Germany

The German National team as they celebrate their record breaking World Cup victory in 2014
The German National team as they celebrate their record breaking World Cup victory in 2014

With 6.6 Million members and 26,000 recognized football clubs, Germany has the highest density of soccer players by population in the whole of Europe. Having been first introduced to soccer in the 1870’s, Germans have relied on soccer to keep themselves together as a culture, through war and the separation of East and West Germany. With awards that prove their worth at 4 World Cups, 3 Euro Cups and an Olympic gold medal (awarded to East Germany), it’s not a surprise that Germany ranks as number one in current FIFA standings. Also to the credit of the Germans, they currently hold the single biggest score gap in World Cup history with their performance against Brazil on their home turf with a 7-1 win over their opponents, who viewed the game as a national tragedy.

#1 Soccer Country – Brazil

The Brazilian National team for the Copa America 2016 tournament.
The Brazilian National team for the Copa America 2016 tournament.

Topping the list of best soccer countries is the giant of South America, Brazil. Despite the aforementioned 2014 performance, Brazil is still seen as the best country for soccer as they have appeared in every World Cup competition that has ever been held. Brazil also has carried their nation to victory five times, making it the team with the most World Cup trophies. Brazil also 4 Confederations Cups, and 8 Copa titles. Alongside national successes, players born and raised in Brazil have traveled to teams around the world to improve them. Among the most popular would be Ronaldo, the star player of Portugal’s winning UEFA team in 2016, Pelé who is widely referred to as the best footballer in history, and Kaká, who is currently the leader of Orlando City FC in the United States’ MLS league, which has brought it international attention. Also claiming the highest number of players to ever get international awards, it could be said Brazil is a soccer paradise, and has no issue sharing the love of the game.

So that’s the top 10 soccer aka futbol teams in 2017. Let us know if you think we messed up and another country should be on the list!

Cody Carmichael
University graduate in Psychology, and health worker. On my off time I'm usually tinkering with tech or traveling to the ends of the globe.
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