World Soccer Power Rankings: Brazil up to first thanks to defense, England and Netherlands rise

The world got its first taste of the UEFA Nations League over the last few months, and it's been a competition that has received praise for its quality and emotion, especially compared to international friendlies. The new competition has four leagues, there's promotion and relegation and it also gives teams another way to get into Euro 2020 by winning their respective league. 

The competition picks back up in March with semifinals and a final in Leagues B, C and D, and many of those matches can be viewed on fuboTV (Try for free). So far the Nations League has seen 12 teams be promoted and 12 relegated, and there have been several surprises. So who are the three most surprising teams?

Switzerland

The Swiss are the biggest surprise in the competition by making the final four in League A, joining the Netherlands, Portugal and England. This is a team that followed up a 1-0 friendly loss to Qatar by beating Belgium 5-2 to advance. Switzerland's main issue entering the World Cup was figuring out where it would get its goal scoring from. The team was able to score five times in three games in the group stage in Russia, but then we saw their precision off in the round of 16 loss to Sweden.

The team has since found its identity in attack with Xherdan Shaqiri leading the way. The Swiss scored 14 goals in just four games in this competition. The team beat Iceland 6-0 in the first game and ended it with those five goals against Belgium on Sunday. 

Haris Seferovic scored five in the competition and had a hat trick against Belgium, giving this team a bunch of momentum entering 2019.

Netherlands

The Oranje may just be back. The Netherlands got through a group including France and Germany to advance to the final four -- and it was impressive. Memphis Depay is on fire, the defense has generally done well and they look confident. 

This team missed out on the World Cup because nothing was going right, especially against the big teams. But going 2-1-1 in League A and holding off France was impressive. 

Defender Virgil Van Dijk, midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum and Depay each scored two goals in the last three games as the team got the points it needed to move on.

Ukraine

Don't look now, but Andriy Shevchenko has this team playing really well. The legendary striker is 12-6-5 in 23 games with just 20 goals conceded. 

Sure, the 4-1 loss to Slovakia was kind of out of nowhere, but the team won all three of its other group stage games, conceding just one goal in those contests. 

It won't be long until some clubs start looking at him for their head coaching job, if it hasn't happened already. The team is organized, it works hard and it is confident, just like Shevchenko was as a player. 

Here are our rankings with the changes coming in relation to our October power rankings:

World Club Soccer Power Rankings

Previous rankings: Oct. 17Sept. 13

RKTEAMCHGANALYSIS

1.

Brazil

+2

The attack may not be on fire, but that's six straight clean sheets for Tite's squad. Looking sharp with Copa America next year. 

2.

England

+2

The Three Lions roared into the finals of the Nations League and are out to prove that World Cup run wasn't a fluke. 
3.

France

-2

Kylian Mbappe is injured and the team didn't advance in the Nations League after being outclassed by the Netherlands.

4.

Belgium

-2

How in the world did this team give up five goals to Switzerland? Not a good look, guys. 

5.

Netherlands

NR

Out of nowhere, the Dutch appear to be back. 2-2-0 in the last four with wins over France and Germany in the process. It just feels right when the Dutch are good.

6.

Spain

-1

Shot themselves in the foot in the Nations League, but this team is trending in the right direction under Luis Enrique. Give it time ... and stop playing Alvaro Morata. 

7.

Portugal

+6

No Cristiano Ronaldo, but this team is through in the Nations League. Bernardo Silva has been fantastic, and they'll surely aim to get CR7 back for the finals.

8.

Switzerland

+6

For a team that struggles to score, there were no struggles in the win over Belgium. Xherdan Shaqiri continues his fine run of form and this team now is the dark horse in the competition.

9.

Argentina

+2

Mauro Icardi is looking good and the young, hungry players are showing there is more to Argentina than the unproductive veterans we saw at the World Cup.

10.

Denmark

+1

It's been a good year for the Danes. They got out of the group stage in Russia and are now promoted to League A in the Nations League. 

11.

Uruguay

-1

No goals in losses to Brazil and France with eight shots combined in the two contests. Not overly concerning since they are friendlies, but you'd like to see more.

12.

Colombia

-2

It remains to be seen if this team can stay at a high level without Nestor Pekerman, but the talent is there to grow.

13.

Croatia

-6

The fun is over after that World Cup run. Crushed by Spain early on and then relegated after the loss to England in the Nations League, there are more questions than answers right now. 

14.

Russia

-8

Coming back down to earth now. May have been promoted in an easy group, but losses to Germany and Sweden show that this team doesn't have answers in attack.

15.

Japan

-3

AFC Cup action set to start, but drawing Venezuela doesn't produce momentum.

16.

Ukraine

+2

Promoted and looking great under Shevchenko. He's 12-6-5 since taking over this team and has the team playing really well and with confidence.

17.

South Korea 

--

The favorite in the AFC Cup and a really easy group that should give this team next to no trouble. 

18.

Bosnia and Herzegovina

+1

Promoted and held their own against Spain in a friendly. A bright future ahead.

19.

Sweden

-3

Promoted in the Nations League in an easy group and again the issue is not scoring enough goals to really do much. Solid, but far from good.

20.

Finland

+1

Finland has been promoted in the Nations League and is entering relevance. Up to League B where it hopes to keep trending upward.

21.

Mexico

-6

Waiting on you, Tata Martino. One win in their last eight games and zero goals scored in the last three. 

22.

Peru

-2

Three matches without a win, but those results are hardly important. This team continues to build chemistry and 2018 will be a year they will never, ever forget. 

23.

Serbia

--

Another promoted team and Aleksandar Mitrovic stayed hot. Look away, Fulham fans. 

24.

Norway

NR

It's been about 20 years since Norway did much of anything in the sport, beating Brazil in the 1998 World Cup group stage. Getting promoted in the Nations League is hardly anywhere close, but it's a start.

25.

United States

-1

The results haven't been there, but all of those minutes the young guys are getting will only help this team down the road. Dave Sarachan has been a positive and has greatly helped the team's future.
  • Dropped out: Germany, Cameroon. 
  • Just missed the cut: Scotland, Costa Rica

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Roger Gonzalez is an award-winning writer based in Virginia that has covered pro soccer from Europe's top clubs to Argentina's first division. Roger started out his pro soccer writing career with Goal.com... Full Bio

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