Soccer turns the wheels of billions of lives around the world. And among the countless fans, many develop an interest in diving deep into the sport’s mathematical side.
A large number of soccer fans today show a keen interest in the stats and rankings of players. Either to bet on a favorite team or to pick the best talent for their fantasy league side.
But as attractive as these match ratings are, they compel one to wonder how they are determined.
Is the rating based solely on the individual match performance? Are the ratings consistent for all observers? And how reliable are they?
You often pass your two cents for a prediction of a player’s rating when watching a match. And quite often, you see that the official ratings overlap with the ones you made.
However, it is in the matches when your rating of a player does not match the official one that makes you wonder what you didn’t take into consideration.
And so that’s exactly what we’ll figure out today!
How are soccer match ratings determined, and what factors affect these ratings the most?
How Are Soccer Match Ratings Determined?
Soccer match ratings are passed by a number of official and third-party observers. Though the official observations are strictly for managerial and club use, the third-party observations are easy to get a hold of online.
But being a third-party observer doesn’t rule out the legitimacy of the match rating in soccer. Because these observers are either former players, managers, or well-known critics of the sport.
The rating scale ranges from 0-10. And while most players fluctuate within the 3-7 points zone, you have to really put in an effort to score a 0 or 10!
Goals, assists, dribbling, and passes are the heaviest determinants of soccer match ratings for players. But what matters, even more, is how well a player performs within the role assigned to him, i.e., midfield, defense, strike, etc.
And as a rule of thumb, every player starts out with an expected rating of 5. The rise or fall of these ratings then depends on the player’s performance during that match.
It is more or less exactly how you see the player ratings continuously change during a FIFA career mode match.
But if you’re not a FIFA fanatic, here are the factors that determine soccer match ratings based on a player’s performance!
Goals and Assists – The Macro-Contributors!
The goals and assists of a player make the lion’s share of his match rating.
Scoring a goal is the only way to shift the momentum of a match in a team’s favor. And if a player is involved in making that goal happen, he’s rewarded generously with points!
Scoring a goal in soccer may be an occasional fluke too. But most of the time, it is a show of doing the right thing, in the right place, at the right time.
In addition, assists are the second most impactful contributions of a player to his match ratings. The selfless act of play coupled with the extraordinary vision for an opportunity truly deserves high marks.
Though the goal scorer always makes the headlines the next day, it is mostly an assist that sets up a goal.
And that’s why players like Mesut Ozil still count among some of the top-rated players of soccer. He doesn’t score many goals, but his assists game was on fire during the peak of his career!
Scoring more than one goal or making more than one assist in a game clearly puts a player in the ballpark of 8-9 ratings.
But for getting a 10, the player’s performance needs to be nothing short of sensational! And that depends on more of the following factors.
Passing and Team Play
Soccer is not an individual performance sport, so the team play of a player determines its ratings. How good the player’s chemistry is on the pitch with his teammates reflects on his overall performance.
And passing, being the principal element of team play and chemistry, is what changes a player’s rating outcome.
The better a player can advance his team into the final 3rd of the pitch, the more points observers award him.
Toni Kroos is a glaring example of such a player. The guy lacks heavily in speed, agility, acceleration and doesn’t consistently score goals either.
But he makes up for it through his sniper passes. Kroos handles the midfield for Real Madrid and has a spot in the squad for engaging every player.
Eventually, a team’s chemistry and passes always lead to goal-scoring opportunities in soccer. Take Barcelona’s tiki-taka as an example!
And the individual contribution of a player depends on how his passes create chances? How many of them converted into goals? And how much of his team play and passing cancels opposition attacking threats?
Errors and Blunders
When talking about errors and blunders, it’s hard not to think of Gerrard’s mighty slip and Ramos’ space penalty. And yes, it’s exactly errors and blunders like these that determine a soccer match rating for a player!
Errors, miscalculations, and blunders are a natural part of soccer. But when they have a match-turning effect, that’s when it takes a toll on a player’s rating.
Leaving open a defensive gap, booked for a yellow or red card, scoring an own goal, conceding a penalty, or giving out a freekick in a threatening position are some common errors and blunders in soccer.
Such errors put the conceding team at an immediate disadvantage and may even become the cause for their loss. And so, they’re dealt with an “Iron Hand” by observers in their rating!
However, not all the errors and blunders are weighed on the same scale either.
Unsuccessful passes, not-on-target shots, and failed dribbles are all errors too. But since a player can recover from these easily, they don’t reduce hard or major points.
On the contrary, getting booked for a red or yellow and scoring an own goal are blunders where there is no turning back from. And so, they result in the most significant chunk of points reduction from a player’s match rating.
Off-the-ball activity in soccer is equally essential to the performance when in possession of the ball.
A well-timed sliding tackle, clean shoulder barge, clearing an aerial ball and intercepting passes get a player generously rewarded with points for his match rating.
Intercepting your opponent’s key passes and changing the ball possession instantly changes the dynamic of the match.
The team gaining possession switches from defending to striking right away. And that can be seen from how most interceptions in the defending 3rd lead to notorious counter-strikes!
Interception, however, is a risky way of scoring match points.
A player typically has to leave his designated position to attempt an interception. And if he fails to switch the possession of the ball, it puts the attacking team at an advantage.
There’s more than one way for how intercepting a ball can go wrong. A player might get booked for a careless challenge or even dribbled past by a skilled striker.
Perhaps, it is the high-risk factor why this little maneuver weighs more than other points on the scoring card.
Regardless of the risks involved in an interception, it is a vital element of every defending side. And more often than not, Defending Midfielders like Fabinho are designated with the task of disrupting attacking balls and attempting interceptions.
If a player has on-point positioning in the game and is actively attempting interceptions, he puts his team at an advantage of being the attacking side again.
And this contribution makes a decent share of a player’s match rating afterward!
Contribution to the Match Outcome
A soccer player’s contribution to the match outcome is a tricky concept to settle in.
Scoring goals, making assists, intercepting, and dribbling can get a player big numbers for his match rating. But what matters more than all of these elements combined is a player’s impact.
How involved a player is during a match and how much of his individual skills led to his team’s victory are heavy determinants of soccer match ratings.
Scoring two goals and making an assist is clearly a remarkable performance for a player. But that is of lesser value if the team ends up winning by big margins of 4-2, 5-1, etc.
Big goal differences like this show how the team would’ve won even without the contribution of such a player.
Now compare that to a player scoring a single goal but during the stoppage time to either equalize or give his team a lead in the dying seconds to win a match.
Take Lewandoski’s thunderous performance vs. Wolfsburg in 2015, where he scored 5 goals in 9 minutes after being subbed in at the 51st minute.
Now that’s what you call a match-winning contribution to a match outcome and impact on the pitch!
The latter examples clearly show a bigger contribution of the player to his team’s victory or preventing a loss.
Such factors are observed closely for match ratings and are the driving factors for a player’s match rating to cross 8.
The significance of a match is what differentiates a well-performing player from a brilliant one!
Scoring goals and turning games around in local leagues and domestic cups weigh less than in the Champions League, World Cup, or other international competitions.
The trademark trait of great players is delivering quality at the highest pedestals.
Zidane was the backbone of Real Madrid’s infamous Galacticos lineup. And though he was inconsistent in scoring and assists in domestic cups and local leagues, he was a big game performer!
And his sensational performances, like in the 2006 World Cup Semis and Champions League Final of 2002, earned him most of his 10-point match ratings.
Similarly, a match-turning lousy performance by a player on a big stage reflects equally damaging on his match ratings.
Steven Gerrard’s disastrous performance against Manchester United in 2015 is an example to look at here. The star player impacted the pitch for a solid 38 seconds, after which he was sent off for a reckless tackle.
This little act of play gave United an upper hand, who ended up winning the much controversial rivalry match. And performances like these are what get a player in the court of a ZERO rating in soccer.
Match ratings have become an important part of the soccer game, not only for managers but also for the fans of the sport.
Match ratings provide tangible information that is key for betting and other prediction models for soccer matches.
Moreover, match ratings are pretty helpful for fans trying to figure out their fantasy league teams. These stats provide the fans with valuable insights into a player’s abilities and form.
Though there are dozens of factors like key passes, shots on target, and crosses that determine a soccer player’s match rating, the ones mentioned above cover up most of the criteria.
Because scoring goals and making assists in crucial matches, and having a high impact on your team naturally means a player has a better vision for key passes and a good conversion ratio.
Hi there, I’m Jay.
The Pitch is Ours is a new beginning for me and a stepping stone to prepare before retiring from the professional soccer team. Soccer is everything in my life! My friends and I have created this blog with all our enthusiasm, passion, and understanding after years of playing pro soccer. Hope you will enjoy it!