15 matches, 38 goals and 5 different champions. That’s the story in brief of the Unofficial Football World Champions in 2015. It was a year in which the UFWC title was held exclusively within South America, and was contested at the Copa America tournament, during World Cup qualification, and in a handful of friendlies. The year began with Brazil holding the title, and ended with Uruguay as unofficial champions. Welcome to the UFWC Review of the Year 2015.
Brazil had taken the UFWC title from Argentina back in October 2014, and the Selecao opened this year’s UFWC fixtures in with a 3-1 win over France in Saint Denis in March 2015. Continuing their world tour, they then defeated Chile 1-0 at Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium in London. Friendly wins over Mexico and Honduras followed, before Brazil took the UFWC title into the Copa America in June.
An opening 2-1 win over Peru was Brazil’s ninth consecutive UFWC title match win. Dunga’s team looked formidable, but were clearly very reliant on captain and talisman Neymar, who scored one and made one against Peru. But in their next match, Brazil lost Neymar to a red card, and lost the UFWC title to Colombia.
Colombia had last won a UFWC title match at the 1994 World Cup, so it had been a 21-year wait for Los Cafeteros, who bettered the Selecao for much of the game. Inter central defender Jeison Murillo was Colombia’s UFWC hero, sweeping home a first-half goal with his left foot after Brazil failed to clear a free kick. There were unwanted scenes at the final whistle, with Neymar sent off for head-butting Murillo.
A 0-0 draw with Peru was just enough to see Colombia retain the UFWC title and squeeze into the Copa quarter finals, where they played out an epic encounter with Argentina, eventually losing the UFWC title on penalties, with Argentina’s Carlos Tevez scoring the decisive kick.
Argentina had flattered to deceive as they progressed through the Copa tournament, but that all changed in the semi final against Paraguay. Lionel Messi had an extraordinary game, being involved in everything as Argentina won 6-1. Rojo, Pastore, Di Maria (2), Aguero and Higuain were the scorers as Argentina booked their place in the Copa final, where they would play Chile.
As so often happens at international tournaments, the Copa America final was something of a disappointment, with a lack of goals meaning it had to be decided via a penalty shoot-out. Only Messi scored for Argentina, while Fernandez, Vidal, Aranguiz and Sanchez all scored for Chile, meaning La Roja were Copa America winners and UFWC champions.
Chile began their reign with a 3-2 friendly match win over Paraguay. Then, in October, came the World Cup qualifiers, where Chile proved their UFWC credentials by beating Brazil 2-0, with Vargas and Sanchez the scorers.
Vargas and Sanchez scored again – two goals each – in a 4-3 win over Peru. A 1-1 draw with Colombia meant Chile retained the title, but their reign came to an end when they were beaten 3-0 by Uruguay. Godin, Pereira and Caceres were the goalscorers.
Uruguay have now won 21 UFWC title matches, and are 11th in the all-time rankings, needing only four more wins to make it into the top ten. La Celeste are second in the CONMEBOL WC qualifying table, three points behind Ecuador. Their next qualifier is against Brazil next March, however they are likely to play a friendly match ahead of that date, which, once confirmed, would become the next UFWC title match.
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Finally for 2015, a last chance to get the official UFWC book, Unofficial Football World Champions, which contains a complete history of the unofficial competition from the first ever international match in 1872. The last few copies are now available, details here.