Every 'Unofficial World Champion' since 2010 after the Netherlands claim the title


The current world champions are France. Right?

Well, every four years, the best footballing nation is crowned at the FIFA World Cup and Les Bleus are the current holders of the coveted trophy after going all the way in Russia last year.

However, every football fan is rather familiar with the lineage of that famous accolade and - as a result - numerous supporters have hypothesised about an 'unofficial championship.'

The idea started after Scotland defeated England shortly after they won the World Cup in 1966, leading to amusing suggestions that they were the world number one as a consequence.

Since then, certain fanatics have been tracking exactly which teams would be world champions if - like boxing - every single defeat saw the title exchange hands.

And with the Netherlands collecting this imaginary belt thanks to a victory against Germany this week, we decided to assess how the title has changed hands this decade.

Spain (July-September 2010)

Although we could rewind the clock as far back as 1966, we've decided to start our history lesson with Spain's World Cup victory over the Netherlands in 2010.

They retained their title with wins over Mexico and Liechtenstein after the tournament in South Africa, but succumbed to a shock 4-1 defeat to Argentina just a few months later.

Spain's goalkeeper Iker Casillas holds t

Argentina (September-October 2010)

You'd think that absolutely thrashing the world champions and having players like Lionel Messi would inspire you to keep the title for years and years. The reality? They lasted one game.

Japan (October 2010-November 2011)

A goal from Shinji Okazaki had given Japan a memorable win over Argentina and they crawled over the line with the title in 2010 after a nerve-wracking goalless draw with South Korea.

However, Japan went on an impressive unbeaten run in 2011 with victories or draws against Jordan, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, South Korea (twice), Australia, the Czech Republic, Uzbekistan, Vietnam and Tajikistan.

Their status as unofficial world champions eventually came to an end versus North Korea - who'd they previously beaten in 2011 - with a shock 1-0 loss in Pyongyang.

Japan's forward Shinji Okazaki (L) is ci

North Korea (November 2011-January 2013)

It would fair to say that the secretive state of North Korea were unlikely candidates as unofficial world champions, but it took almost two years for them to lose the crown.

That being said, none of their opposition were truly taxing - a 1-1 draw with Australia was probably the highlight - yet 13 games without defeat is nothing to be sniffed at.

However, they even managed to avoid a loss in regular time when they eventually lost the title, finally succumbing against Sweden via a penalty shootout.

Sweden (January-February 2013)

One of the shortest reigns in this unofficial championship and after limping their way to victory against North Korea, they could only manage a win over Finland in their time on the throne.

But Argentina wrestled back the title that they surrendered to Asia three years earlier by defeating Sweden 3-2 in a game that featured Sergio Aguero and Gonzalo Higuain strikes.


Argentina (February-October 2013)

We resisted the first time, but we can't contain ourselves any longer: does this mean Lionel Messi has won an international trophy then? Forgive us.

Argentina managed to hold on to the crown far better this time and avoided defeats against Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Guatemala, Paraguay and Peru throughout 2013.

Nevertheless, they lost the title in the same manner that they won it with a 3-2 scoreline, this time with Uruguay coming out on top despite a brace from Maxi Rodriguez.

Uruguay (October 2013-June 2014)

Victories against Jordan, Northern Ireland and Slovenia meant that Uruguay entered the 2014 World Cup - which pitted them in a group with Italy and England - as the unofficial ones to beat.

Despite their 'Group of Death', though, it was the apparent whipping boys of Costa Rica that rid them of their title with a famous 3-1 upset in Fortaleza.

Uruguay v Argentina - FIFA World Cup 2014 Qualifiers

Costa Rica (June-July 2014)

It almost seems harsh on this plucky Costa Rica team to say their reign only lasted one month, having reached the knockout rounds with a win over Italy and a goalless draw with England.

They made it as far as the quarter-finals by defeating Greece on penalties, but an inspired shootout performance from Tim Krul ensured their fairytale run was ended.

The Netherlands (July 2014)

Well this is awkward. Oranje held the title for just one game and didn't score a single goal as 'unofficial champions', missing out on a place in the World Cup at the expense of Argentina.

Argentina (July 2014)

Well this is awkward. Messi and co held the title for just one game and didn't score a single goal as 'unofficial champions', missing out on the World Cup trophy at the expense of Germany.


Germany (July-September 2014)

We all know what happened here with Mario Gotze scoring a dramatic winner at the Maracana, but Germany's time as the boxing-style champions lasted far less than their official reign.

That's because Argentina had the opportunity to exact revenge just one game later in a September friendly and did just that by romping to a 4-2 victory in Dusseldorf.

Argentina (September-October 2014)

Can somebody hold on to this title for more than one game please!? Just as Argentina exorcised the demons of the 2014 World Cup final, they slumped to another loss just one month later.

This time it was their South American rivals Brazil who - via two goals from Diego Tardelli - bagged the imaginary crown for the first time this decade.


Brazil (October 2014-June 2015)

We're pleased to say that Brazil didn't completely bottle their status after one game, unlike the Dutch, Argentine (x2) and German teams that came before them.

The Selecao remained on top of the world with wins over Turkey, Austria, France, Chile, Mexico, Honduras and Peru before eventually coming unstuck in the summer of 2015.

And it was none other than the Copa America that proved the stage for Brazil's demise, slumping to a 1-0 loss against Colombia in a group they would actually proceed to dominate.

Colombia (June 2015)

With the title now in the clutches of an international tournament, the tenures were always going to shrink and Colombia barely made it out of the group-stages.

Their time in charge was decidedly dull after drawing 0-0 with Peru and replicating that against Argentina, only to lose the latter thanks to three penalty shootout misses.


Argentina (June-July 2015)

If the World Cup actually worked like this, then we would have lost count of how many times Messi would have been king of the world but, once again, the Barcelona superstar suffered heartbreak.

A short era of dominance that featured a 6-1 drubbing of Paraguay eventually ended on penalties, when Chile held their nerves the best during a tense Copa America final.

Chile (July-November 2015)

A newly-invigorated Chile built on their success in the Copa America with more continental wins over Paraguay, Brazil and Peru as well as 1-1 draw with Colombia.

Nevertheless, true to the unpredictability of World Cup qualifiers in South America, the form-book was torn up in November when Chile were thrashed 3-0 by Uruguay.

Argentina v Chile: Championship - Copa America Centenario

Uruguay (November 2015-June 2016)

Having the honour of babysitting the title over winter, Uruguay survived a tough challenge against Brazil in their first defence, before putting Peru and Trinidad & Tobago to the sword shortly after.

The unofficial championship finally abandoned South America after almost two years, however, with Uruguay coming unstuck in a 3-1 defeat to their northern Latin cousins in Mexico.

Mexico (June 2016)

Despite swiping the crown off Uruguay's scalp, the Mexicans were always going to be up against it given their invitation to that summer's Copa America tournament in the USA.

They initially managed to keep their composure by qualifying from the group-stages unbeaten, but completely and utterly imploded during a 7-0 annihilation against Chile in the round of 16.

Mexico v Jamaica: Group C - Copa America Centenario

Chile (June-September 2016)

Building on their demolition job over Mexico by overcoming Colombia and dishing out some more Messi heartbreak, Alexis Sanchez and co were once again dethroned shortly afterwards.

Goals from Oscar Romero and Paulo da Silva allowed Paraguay to cause a major upset during a World Cup qualifier in September. 

Paraguay (September 2016)

Can South American football just chill out for a second? Paraguay were the unofficial champions for literally five days after Uruguay knocked them down a few pegs with a 4-0 humbling.

Uruguay (September-November 2016)

After bringing the crown into the new year just a few months prior, Uruguay failed in their attempts to see out the winter despite defeating Venezuela and Ecuador, while drawing with Colombia.

In this never-ending merry-go-round of South American title winners, Chile regained the belt for what feels like the one-millionth time by securing a 3-1 victory.


Chile (November 2016-March 2017)

At this point, we feel like sending Sylvester Stallone into the Chilean dressing room and - in the role of Rocky Balboa - getting him to drill the squad on actually holding on to this damn title.

Thankfully for us, though, that level of inspiration wasn't needed throughout the first few months as they hurdled the challenges of Uruguay, Croatia and Iceland.

But it didn't last for much longer than that as the perpetually topsy-turvy World Cup qualifiers saw Argentina beat them 1-0 thanks to a Messi penalty.

Argentina (March 2017)

You give Messi a world title for two seconds and what happens? Just as they were enjoying a win over Chile, they were dealt a crushing blow by Bolivia on the notoriously difficult away trip to La Paz.


Bolivia (March-August 2017)

One of the few South American teams that hadn't held this title in the latest decade, Bolivia fared better than some of their predecessors by seeing off Nicaragua twice in the summer.

But if you rid them of their home advantage or put them against one of the continent's finest, it doesn't tend to end very well and Peru stripped them of the belt with a 2-1 win.

Peru (August 2017-June 2018)

At long, long last, somebody has retained the title for more than a few games. First and foremost, Peru ended their World Cup qualifying campaign unbeaten against Ecuador and Colombia.

Next, they confirmed their place in the 2018 tournament by defeating New Zealand in a play-off, before preparing for Russia with wins over Croatia, Scotland, Iceland and Saudi Arabia.

They also drew 0-0 with Sweden in their build-up, but such impressive form didn't transfer to the big stage as they fell to Denmark during their opening match.

Australia v Peru: Group C - 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia

Denmark (June 2018)

An absolute snooze-fest of a reign. The Danes stumbled into the knockout rounds with draws against Australia and France, before Croatia dispatched them on penalties in Nizhny.

Croatia (June-July 2018)

An emotional one for England fans, this. Croatia shocked the world by playing their way to the World Cup final with a penalty win over Russia and an extra-time victory against the Three Lions.

However, Croatia came out on the losing side of one of the greatest World Cup finals in history, paying for their leaky defence in a 4-2 loss against France.


France (July-November 2018)

Unlike some of the world champions before them, Les Bleus didn't take their foot off the gas after lifting the famous trophy and survived an early scare by drawing 0-0 with Germany.

The Netherlands would eventually end their time on the throne, however, by destroying a run that saw wins over Oranje and Germany as well as a 2-2 draw against Iceland.

The Netherlands (November 2018-March 2019)

In what seems like a tennis rally of games between the Netherlands and Germany, Ronald Koeman's men managed to defeat their neighbours once again as well as Belarus.

Fast forward to earlier this year, though, and Die Mannschaft exacted their revenge in a 3-2 win that featured goals from Leroy Sane, Serge Gnabry and Nico Schulz.


Germany (March-September 2019)

Germany kept the title warm before their next match with the Netherlands, improving on some recently tough form by brushing aside Belarus and obliterating Estonia 8-0.

But, guess what happened next? Yes, you guessed it...

The Netherlands (September 2019- )

Here we are, the present day and the recent back and forth between Germany and the Netherlands has seen the latter get their hands on the belt for the second time in quick succession.

Their upcoming fixtures see them play Belarus, then Estonia and Northern Ireland twice, while thankfully there are no Germany clashes on the horizon. Who will take the title next?

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