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Qatar World Cup: Brazil to be top-ranked team at tournament; England at No. 5, USMNT ranked No. 16

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Brazil will go to the World Cup as the top-ranked team after extending their lead over second-place Belgium in the latest FIFA rankings released on Thursday.

They are the only nation to have competed in every World Cup finals and will go into next month's tournament in Qatar seeking a record-extending sixth crown.

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Brazil won their two warm-up games in September -- against Ghana and Tunisia -- while Belgium lost to the Netherlands in one of their two UEFA Nations League games.

Argentina, whose talisman Lionel Messi announced this World Cup would be his last on Thursday, stayed at No. 3 and 2018 champions France remained at No. 4.

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Brazil coach Tite has an embarrassment of riches in attack, with his squad boasting the likes of Vinicius Junior, Raphinha, Richarlison, Antony and Gabriel Jesus in addition to Paris Saint-Germain superstar Neymar.

And the Brazil coach told AP, that all his forwards would get a chance in Qatar.

"There will be opportunities for all [Brazil's forwards]," Tite said in an interview with The Associated Press. "Whoever is in will be deciding the match, all have to be prepared. Every match might require a different characteristic.

"We will make adjustments, we will not change our game plan. We will impose our way of playing."

The Selecao may need plenty of goals in Qatar as Tite doesn't have nearly as many options in defense. Brazil has few top-class full-backs at the moment, while starting centre-back Thiago Silva is 38 years old. Defensive midfielder Casemiro also has yet to fully adjust to his new surroundings at Manchester United after leaving Real Madrid.

Tite doesn't think his defense will be a problem, though, as long as his players do one thing.

"Play your best at your club," said Tite, adding he doesn't pay much attention to criticism his players receive. "We listen very little to any noise coming from outside. What is outside remains outside."

Qatar will be the 50th-ranked team, just ahead of No. 51 Saudi Arabia. Ghana will be the lowest ranked team at No. 61.

Group B at the World Cup is the strongest by rankings with all four teams in the top 20: No. 5 England, No. 16 United States, No. 19 Wales and No. 20 Iran.

Italy rose one place to No. 6 and are the highest-ranked team that failed to qualify for the World Cup, missing back-to-back editions. Spain fell one place to No. 7, with Netherlands, Portugal and Denmark unchanged to complete the top 10.

Germany, the 2014 world champions, are No. 11, just ahead of 2018 finalists Croatia.

Also, Russia rose two places to No. 33 despite not playing a recognised game in 2022 because the national team was suspended following the country's invasion of Ukraine.

The World Cup in Qatar starts on Nov. 20.