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I've looked into the UEFA rules for deciding which team is ranked higher in case they're tied on points, however this wording confuses me.

If two or more teams are equal on points on completion of the group matches,
the following criteria are applied in the order given to determine their rankings:

a. higher number of points obtained in the group matches played among the
teams in question;
b. superior goal difference from the group matches played among the teams in
question;
c. higher number of goals scored in the group matches played among the teams
in question;
d. higher number of goals scored away from home in the group matches played
among the teams in question;
e. if, after having applied criteria a) to d), teams still have an equal ranking,
criteria a) to d) are reapplied exclusively to the matches between the teams in
question to determine their final rankings. If this procedure does not lead to a
decision, criteria f) to l) apply;
f. superior goal difference in all group matches;
g. higher number of goals scored in all group matches;
h. higher number of away goals scored in all group matches;
i. higher number of wins in all group matches;
j. higher number of away wins in all group matches;
k. lower disciplinary points total based only on yellow and red cards received in
all group matches (red card = 3 points, yellow card = 1 point, expulsion for
two yellow cards in one match = 3 points);
l. higher club coefficient (see Annex D).

Looking at the case in group A:

enter image description here

we have

PSG - Ludogorets

Basel - Arsenal

as the last set of fixtures. Both PSG and Arsenal are tied on points and have a chance of claiming top spot, similarly both Ludogorets and Basel are tied and have a chance of qualifying to the Europa League.

But for example, Arsenal has the superior goal difference when compared to PSG (+9 vs +6), but they are second in the ranking, I'm not sure why this is.

  • Codeblocks should not be used for quoting. Use quoteblocks, ` > ` or emphasis *[text]*. – Nij Dec 4 '16 at 5:44
6

First, it should be pointed out that until all matches have played, it might be impossible to apply some of the tie-breakers. For this reason, I would consider tables with only 5 matches of 6 played only as informative.

For example if you look at this rule:

  1. higher number of goals scored away from home in the group matches played among the teams in question;

It can be applied only if the teams in question have already played both matches against each other.


Having said that if we look at the table you described, i.e., Group A after 5 rounds (table after 5 rounds, final table and matches) we can still check which of the above tie-breakers can be applied and how the order would be decided according to them. In this case:

  • PSG and Arsenal are tied on points so we start by applying 1 to 4 to these two teams.
  • In the matches between two teams both of them have 2 points and score 3-3 after two draws. Which means that tie-breakers 1 to 3 do not decide order of the two teams.
  • But the point number 4 (which I quoted above) decides between them. Since PSG played 1-1 at home and 2-2 away, based on away goals rule PSG is placed ahead of Arsenal.

Similarly Ludogorets is ahead of Basel based on away goals rule.


To add another example, have a look at Group D in 2014-15 season. Borussia Dortmund and Arsenal had the same number of points. In the matches between them they both have exactly the same result - home win 2-0. So in this case the matches between these two teams do not decide the order and other tie-breakers must be applied. Since Borussia Dortmund had better goal difference in all group matches, this team won the group.

  • What confuses me is this if, after having applied criteria a) to d), teams still have an equal ranking, criteria a) to d) are reapplied exclusively to the matches between the teams in question if we assume that a-d are considered with matches between the teams in question ONLY and not with all matches in the group, then e doesn't make sense, because it says that a-d are reapplied to the matches between the teams in question (but we assumed a-d are already applied only to those matches) – mankee Dec 4 '16 at 2:23
  • @mankee In this specific case we have only two teams, so now e does not make sense. However, imagine that (hypothetically) four teams are tied. We then apply a) to d) to these four teams. And imagine that after this we have, for example, Team 1 ahead of others, Team 4 last, but Team 2 and Team 3 are still tied based on these four tie-breakers. Then e means that we reapply these rules once again to the matches between Team 2 and Team 3. – Martin Dec 4 '16 at 2:29
  • However, your comment seems to be different from what you asked above - in the question you asked for explanation of tie-breaker between PSG and Arsenal, where already d) decides the order, hence e) is not applied at all. – Martin Dec 4 '16 at 2:30
  • Alright, so essentially the teams have the following motives: PSG -> need to match Arsenal's result to secure top spot. Arsenal -> need to beat PSG on points to secure top spot. Basel -> if they draw/win and Ludogorets lose to PSG they will get a Europa League place. Ludo -> if they lose and Basel doesn't lose to Arsenal, they are out. – mankee Dec 4 '16 at 2:32

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