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I'm developing a spreadsheet to emulate the tournament 'wallchart' you get for football tournaments. The regulations governing the ranking of teams (Article 19.04 found here) states the following:

On completion of the final tournament group stage, final group standings are compiled based on the number of points obtained by each team in the group.[...]

Article 20.01 goes further and details how to sort teams on completion of the final tournament group stage (i.e. by using head-to-head records).

Initially, I would try to sort teams as the games were played (i.e. if they were level on points, I would try to use Article 20.01). However, this would create some unusual rankings:

enter image description here

Teams that have not played each other yet cannot be ranked using head-to-head (in this example, Switzerland have not yet played either Italy or Turkey).

Question: I have changed the sorting to use Overall Pts, Overall GD then Overall F to sort teams at the moment. When the final group game scores have been entered then, and only then, do head-to-head tiebreakers get used. Is this approach correct?

Or should we try to apply the head-to-head rules as games are played? If so, how should teams be ranked if they have not played each other yet? See another example below:

enter image description here

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When the final group game scores have been entered then, and only then, do head-to-head tiebreakers get used. Is this approach correct?

It's perhaps correct enough. Group standings while the group is still in progress don't mean anything. When the group hasn't started yet, there is nothing to tiebreak on, and the teams are probably shown in alphabetical order (or maybe in the order of the draw, i.e. the highest seed first) without implying any ranking at all.

In my experience, 'partial' standings are usually ranked on Points, then on Matches played (lower = better), then on Goal difference (or perhaps the head-to-head match).

In the end, only the final standings matter, and by then it's always possible to use the head-to-head match as a tiebreaker if necessary.

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  • Thank you Glorfindel! This is useful information. I agree, the final standings are what matter. I do have a vivid memory of an 'as it stands' table being reported for each group after the odd game (and would love to emulate whatever they do) but what you've proposed is reasonable (for lack of a better solution). – Chris Toffis Aug 8 '20 at 18:45

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