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Updated Action Network’s International Soccer Power Rankings: England Still Sitting at No. 1; USA in 11th Place Ahead of World Cup Draw (March 31)

Updated Action Network’s International Soccer Power Rankings: England Still Sitting at No. 1; USA in 11th Place Ahead of World Cup Draw (March 31) article feature image
Credit:

Eddie Keogh – The FA/The FA via Getty Images. Pictured: England stars Harry Kane (second from right), Raheem Sterling (right) and their teammates.

It was great to proudly unveil The Action Network International Soccer Power Rankings a few months back, which allowed to realize a longtime goal of creating our own list from top to bottom around the world.

I’ve updated the rankings and still have England firmly sitting in the No. 1 spot. Spain is second, followed by Brazil, France and Portugal to round out the top five on the global scene.

The United States, which is led by manager Gregg Berhalter and standout Christian Pulisic, is just outside my Top 10 in the 11th place.

That said, let’s take a look at the latest rankings.

Rank Country
1 England
2 Spain
3 Brazil
4 France
5 Portugal
6 Italy
7 Germany
8 Netherlands
9 Belgium
10 Argentina
11 USA
12 Denmark
13 Switzerland
14 Croatia
15 Serbia
16 Mexico
17 Austria
18 Uruguay
19 Senegal
20 Russia
21 Czech Republic
22 Poland
23 Bosnia-Herzegovina
24 Colombia
25 Norway
26 Canada
27 Japan
28 South Korea
29 Nigeria
30 Turkey
31 Sweden
32 Scotland
33 Ukraine
34 Ecuador
35 Morocco
36 Ivory Coast
37 Slovenia
38 Chile
39 Paraguay
40 Wales
41 Albania
42 Greece
43 Romania
44 Ireland
45 Finland
46 Peru
47 Iran
48 Qatar
49 Iceland
50 Northern Ireland
Click here to get teams 51-209
Rank Country
51 Slovakia
52 Australia
53 Hungary
54 Algeria
55 North Macedonia
56 Venezuela
57 Cameroon
58 Israel
59 Mali
60 Kosovo
61 Luxembourg
62 Uzbekistan
63 Georgia
64 Panama
65 Armenia
66 Montenegro
67 Jamaica
68 Saudi Arabia
69 Ghana
70 Tunisia
71 New Zealand
72 Cyprus
73 Honduras
74 Belarus
75 Egypt
76 Bolivia
77 Jordan
78 Guinea
79 Kazakhstan
80 Faroe Islands
81 Haiti
82 Iraq
83 China
84 Oman
85 Bulgaria
86 Curacao
87 Costa Rica
88 Kuwait
89 Bahrain
90 Azerbaijan
91 Thailand
92 El Salvador
93 Moldova
94 Dominican Republic
95 Suriname
96 Burkina Faso
97 Estonia
98 Lithuania
99 Kyrgyzstan
100 Zambia
101 Syria
102 Angola
103 South Africa
104 Kenya
105 Guatemala
106 Cuba
107 Cape Verde Islands
108 UAE
109 Gabon
110 Congo DR
111 Ethiopia
112 Palestine
113 Latvia
114 Togo
115 Nicaragua
116 Mozambique
117 Equatorial Guinea
118 Andorra
119 Benin
120 Malta
121 Malaysia
122 Lebanon
123 Uganda
124 Rwanda
125 Madagascar
126 Vietnam
127 Turkmenistan
128 Congo
129 Chad
130 Malawi
131 Sudan
132 Libya
133 Namibia
134 Fiji
135 Guinea-Bissau
136 Zimbabwe
137 South Sudan
138 Papua New Guinea
139 New Caledonia
140 Solomon Islands
140 Vanuatu
142 Trinidad and Tobago
143 Tanzania
144 Niger
145 Tahiti
146 Cook Islands
147 Samoa
148 Gambia
149 American Samoa
150 Tonga
151 Philippines
152 Tajikistan
153 Burundi
154 Sierra Leone
155 Mauritania
156 Liberia
157 Comoros
158 Afghanistan
159 India
160 Yemen
161 Barbados
162 Central Africa Republic
163 Swaziland
164 Singapore
165 Montserrat
166 Indonesia
167 Lesotho
168 Grenada
169 Myanmar
170 Gibraltar
171 Hong Kong
172 Botswana
173 São Tomé and P.
174 Nepal
175 Djibouti
176 Taiwan
177 Bangladesh
178 Mongolia
179 Puerto Rico
180 Cambodia
181 Liechtenstein
182 Somalia
183 Sri Lanka
184 Eritrea
185 Seychelles
186 Maldives
187 Guam
188 Dominica
189 San Marino
190 Bhutan
191 St. Kitts and Nevis
192 Laos
193 Brunei
194 Macau
195 Pakistan
196 Timor-Leste
197 Saint Lucia
198 Anguilla
199 Belize
200 Guyana
201 Bahamas
202 St. Vincent
203 Antigua and Barbuda
204 British Virgin Islands
205 Aruba
206 Turks and Caicos
207 Bermuda
208 US Virgin Islands
209 Cayman Islands

Goal of These Rankings

The reason I decided to take on this project was because I saw a lot of weaknesses in the FIFA rankings and the organization’s path to properly determining who’s the best team in the world.

For example, let’s take a look at the current Top 20 compared to their odds to win the World Cup later this year in Qatar.

Belgium, the No. 1 team in the world according to FIFA, has the seventh-best odds to win the 2022 World Cup. Germany, at No. 12, has the fifth-best odds.

That said, the betting market and FIFA rankings are clearly not in line, as you can clearly see below:

 

So, I decided to try and combat that by creating my own power rankings, to determine who’s the world’s best team based on a couple different factors that have nothing to do with what FIFA uses to create its rankings.

Four Factors Determining Rankings

1)  Expected Goals Results

I am a big believer that expected goals is a better indicator of a nation’s performance rather than just what the final score winds up being.


Expected Goals or (xG) measure the quality of a chance by calculating the likelihood that it will be scored from a particular position on the pitch during a particular phase of play. This value is based on several factors from before the shot was taken. xG is measured on a scale between zero and one, where zero represents a chance that is impossible to score and one represents a chance that a player would be expected to score every single time.


I have gone through and logged every country’s xG results, but only from competitive competitions, meaning no results from friendlies or Nations League competitions were included.

Here are the following competitions that are included for each confederation:

UEFA (Europe) 

    • European Championship Qualifiers
    • European Championships
    • World Cup Qualifiers

CONMEBOL (South America)

    • Copa America
    • World Cup Qualifiers*

CONCACAF (North America)

    • Gold Cup
    • World Cup Qualifiers*

CAF (Africa)

    • Africa Cup of Nations Qualifiers
    • World Cup Qualifiers
    • Africa Cup of Nations*

AFC (Asia)

    • World Cup Qualifiers*

OFC (Ocenia)

    • World Cup Qualifiers*

* Competition is either ongoing or still yet to be played

2) Transfer Value Adjustment

I use Michael Caley’s method of using a team’s overall transfer value to account for the talent level of each country.

Using Transfermarkt data and running a few different calculations, these are the top 25 countries based on total transfer-market value, along with the amount added or subtracted (if the countries total transfer value is below the world average) to their xG differential to help determine the overall rating.

*(data via transfermarkt.com)

3) FIFA Coefficients

Similar to the idea of UEFA Coefficients, which help determine how many teams each country can get into the Champions League, Europa League and Europa Conference League, I wanted to put a coefficient on each continent.

UEFA Coefficients are determined by how well the club teams from each country do in European competitions.

So, I applied that same method to FIFA Coefficients by going back through the last five World Cup competitions and gave out point values (based on the criteria below), along with a weight for the average transfer value by continent to get to a value that can be added to each country’s rating based on what continent it resides in.

FIFA Coefficient Points: 

  1. Two points: For all wins in the group stage & knockout stage
  2. One point: For all draws in the group stage
  3. Two points: Bonus for finishing second in the group
  4. Four points: Bonus for winning the group
  5. One point: Bonus for each round reach from the Round 16 onward

After some calculations, here are the following “FIFA Coefficients” that are added to each country’s xG differential plus transfer value adjustment:

As you can see, Europe and South America are weighted far greater than the rest of the world, which makes sense considering no team outside of Europe or South America has made the semifinal round in the last four tournaments.

4) Strength of Schedule 

Strength of Schedule needs to be taken into account when determining rankings like this:

Inside Continent

First, there is a strength-of-schedule adjustment at the inner continent level, which starts by ranking each team based on its xG differential plus transfer value adjustment. Then, from the average strength of schedule for that specific continent divided by each team’s average rank played, you get the “percentage above/below the average strength of schedule.”

So, for example, England’s average rank of teams faced throughout European qualifiers, Euro 2020 and World Cup qualifiers was 29.12, when the average strength of schedule was 26.64 for Europe. That means, on average, England played a slightly easier schedule.

So, we then take 26.64/29.12 to get 91.49% and then we subtract that from 100% (indicating the average strength of schedule being 100%) and get an adjustment of -8.51% from their xG plus transfer value rating.

Worldwide

Even though FIFA coefficients can give us a good weight for each continent’s true level of play, another strength of schedule at the world level is necessary to properly rate each country.

So, there’s a “final ranking before strength of schedule adjustment,” which is the Final rating after taking into account xGDiff plus transfer value adjustment plus inner continent strength of schedule adjustment.

After that, the same method mentioned above at the inner continent level is applied at the world level, taking the average worldwide strength of schedule divided by the average rank of opponents faced minus 100 percent.


After all of that, we reach the final rating for each country, which is:

Final Rating = xGDiff per match + transfer value adjustment + inner continent strength of schedule adjustment + FIFA coefficient + world strength of schedule adjustment.

TAN World Soccer Ranking

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