Movers and Shakers: The Biggest Changes in Stats Perform’s Power Rankings
It’s been just two months since the 2021-22 domestic football season kicked off. But a lot has happened since then.
Nuno Espírito Santo won the Premier League Manager of the Month Award, then oversaw a club crisis with the very same team who now sit just two points behind Manchester City. All in 33 days. Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo both made remarkable in-season moves. Newcastle are now the world’s wealthiest football club. Sheriff Tiraspol went and won in the Santiago Bernabéu. Norwich City finally put an end to their 17-game Premier League losing run.
Oh, and Watford sacked another manager. So much has happened but sometimes so little has changed.
The international break provides a frustrating but natural pause in domestic football, so it’s the perfect opportunity to look at what’s happened in Stats Perform’s Power Rankings since the season started.
Just a reminder of how this works. Here at The Analyst, we are lucky enough to have access to Stats Perform’s Power Rankings, which rate a frankly enormous number of teams (19,008 across 391 domestic leagues) across the globe based on a system that scores the current strongest side 100 and the weakest zero. The ratings evolve each day based on the results of both an individual club and those of other teams within its own domestic league. Domestic and European fixtures are taken into account, as well as the strength of each league.
So how have early-season results shaken up these rankings?
Cracking The Top 20
On Matchday 1 of the season, Manchester City were our best-ranked team in the world. Since then, though, it’s Pep Guardiola’s former charges, Bayern Munich that have risen to the top. Julian Nagelsmann has assumed command of the German giants pretty seamlessly and despite a shock 2-1 defeat in their last Bundesliga game, the Bavarians sit top of the Bundesliga. They’re also top of their Champions League group with two utterly dominant performances in the group stages so far, one over a fellow top-10 team, Barcelona.
Speaking of the Catalans, the Power Rankings model has rightly punished them for a horror start to the season. They drop five spaces from fourth to ninth. Defeat to Atletico Madrid on the cusp of this international break – painfully at the hands of Luis Suarez – has seen them slump to mid-table in La Liga.
In Europe, it’s worse. The gulf in quality has been laid bare. Barca have lost their first two matches in a UEFA European campaign for the first time since the 1972-73 UEFA Cup. They’ve registered just a single shot on target, fewer than any other team. Ronald Koeman’s sacking seems imminent. Expect them to continue falling in the rankings.
Paris Saint-Germain have broken into the top 10, moving from 11th place on MD1 to sixth. Integrating Messi into a strike force that already contains Neymar and Kylian Mbappé will help. As will a 2-0 victory over Manchester City in the Champions League.
AC Milan’s fast start to Serie A sees them break into our top 20. Stefano Pioli’s side have won 19 points so far this campaign. They’ve only bettered that start in two seasons in the three-points-for-a-win era, in 2003-04 and in 2020-21 (20 points each).
You’d think that’d be enough to propel them to the top of Serie A, but no. That honour is Napoli’s, who are another big riser up six places from 21 to 15. New manager Luciano Spalletti has led them to seven successive victories and to the top of the Serie A table. It’s only the second time in their history that they’ve started a season with seven wins. The last time it happened was actually fairly recently in 2017-18. Back then, Maurizio Sarri started with eight wins from eight games, but his side were eventually pushed into second place by the power of Juventus. Napoli will be hoping that this is finally their year.
West Ham are big movers up into 17th. That’s ahead of fellow Premier League sides Leicester (25), Tottenham (26), Everton (30) and Aston Villa (31). What we’re saying is that West Ham and David Moyes should really be considered in the ‘Big Six’ by now.
The Biggest Risers
Let’s look at the biggest risers from Matchday 1 to now.
When we said our Power Rankings rate an enormous number of teams, we weren’t kidding. You’ve got teams here from Brazil, Serbia and Switzerland among others. Given the number of teams in our rankings, we’ve decided to keep the analysis focused on the top 100 teams for our biggest risers and fallers sections.
Flamengo are the biggest climbers, moving 29 places from rank 83 to rank 54. The Brazilian side are fighting on multiple fronts: they’re second in Série A behind Atlético Mineiro (who are another big riser), are through to the final of the Copa Libertadores and are also in the semi-finals of the Copa do Brasil. We don’t know what else to tell you, other than that Andreas Pereira is on loan there from Manchester United and has already scored as many league goals in seven matches as he did in 45 for The Red Devils.
Fiorentina have enjoyed a fantastic start to their campaign under new manager Vincenzo Italiano. The new Viola coach arrived this summer after spending two seasons at Spezia. The first he spent getting them promoted to Serie A, the second keeping them in the top-flight despite their small stature. Not bad. Spearheaded by the talented Dušan Vlahović, Fiorentina currently sit in fifth in Serie A, ahead of the likes of Juventus, Lazio and Atalanta. Vlahović, who has been linked with big-money moves away from Florence, has been at the heart of Fiorentina’s resurgence. In 2021, only Robert Lewandowski, Karim Benzema and Lionel Messi have scored more goals than the Serbian across Europe’s big five leagues.
Elsewhere, Brighton & Hove Albion are the biggest movers of all Premier League teams. Graham Potter’s side seem to have gotten on the right side of expected goals variance this season and are just two points off league-leaders Chelsea. They’ve been rock solid at the back, giving up just 3.8 expected goals from open play this term, second only to Manchester City.
Young Boys’ famous 2-1 victory over Manchester United on MD1 of the Champions League evidently did their rankings no harm at all.
Although they fall out of our ‘top 100’ filter, we simply can’t have a biggest risers section without mentioning Sheriff Tiraspol. The Moldovan ‘minnows’ pulled off one of the most spectacular upsets in recent history with a memorable 2-1 win over Spanish giants Real Madrid last time out in the Champions League. When the two sides met in the Santiago Bernabéu Stadium, our Power Rankings deemed that to be a battle between the third-best team in the world and the 234th. For context, in 235th place were Wycombe Wanderers. That’s how much of a shock that result was.
Unsurprisingly, that win over Real rocketed Sheriff up the rankings. They now sit in 203rd overall, which is a gargantuan 152 places more than their 355 rank on August 15. Up the Wasps!
The Biggest Fallers
Well, if this isn’t a sad indictment of what’s happening in Spain then we don’t know what is. Nine of the top 10 biggest fallers are Spanish clubs, with the majority of them playing in La Liga. NINE. OUT OF TEN.
Remember that the Power Rankings take into account the relative strength of the leagues, as well as the individual clubs. In a division that has just witnessed the loss of one of the greatest players to play the game, and with Real and Barca’s struggles in Europe, there’s a real sense that the gravitas of La Liga is on the downturn.
Getafe are rooted to the foot of La Liga, with no wins and just one draw from their eight matches so far. They are our biggest fallers, plummeting 39 places. Their last win in the league came in May 2021 against Levante…
… Who funnily enough are their opponents this weekend. Levante are also winless in La Liga, failing to win any of their first eight games in a La Liga season for the second time, after previously doing so in 2007-08, a season which saw them get relegated.
Alavés are 19th in La Liga, Granada 17th. Both are among our biggest fallers. There’s a grim picture emerging here.
All of this, and yet their national side was arguably unlucky to lose the Nations League final to France this past weekend. Go figure.
Norwich have continued to Norwich since MD1. Defeat away to Everton at the end of September extended their Premier League run of consecutive defeats to 17, before a battling point away to Burnley on MD7 stopped the rot. Thankfully for the Canaries, it means they can’t eclipse Sunderland’s 20-game losing streak that ended in 2005.
So, there’s always that.
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