ZURICH -- Germany have returned to the top of the FIFA rankings, taking over from Brazil after a busy World Cup qualifying programme.
The world champions beat Czech Republic and Norway in World Cup qualifying, while former No. 1 side Brazil beat Ecuador but surrendered their place at the summit after being held to a 1-1 draw in Colombia.
European champions Portugal, meanwhile, are up three places to No. 3, while Argentina fall one to No. 4 and Belgium climb to No. 5.
Portugal match their highest-ever placing, last achieved in 2014, while Belgium rise from ninth.
European teams, who each played two qualifiers, gained on their South American rivals and could have six of the eight seeded positions at the World Cup.
Host nation Russia, ranked No. 64, and the seven highest-ranked teams in October should be seeded in the Dec. 1 draw.
Poland are at No. 6, followed by Switzerland, France, Chile and Colombia.
The best of the other regions include Mexico at No. 14, Iran at No. 25 and Egypt at No. 30.
New FIFA World Ranking top 20:
20. Northern Ireland