Champions League group tiebreakers: What happens if teams are tied on points?



There is still plenty left to be decided in the final group-stage matchday of the 2021-22 UEFA Champions League, including several scenarios that could involve tiebreakers coming into play.

Keep the calculators stowed away. We’ve done all the work on the potential scenarios in which teams could finish tied on points in each group. 

Remember: Group winners will advance to the Champions League knockouts as seeded teams. They will be drawn against one of eight group runners-up in the Dec. 13 draw. Third-place finishers clinch a spot in the Europa League knockout playoffs.

MORE: Round of 16 draw date, seeds and rules

Below you’ll find the official list of group-stage tiebreakers, followed by the specific tiebreaker scenarios for each group (Groups A-H).

Champions League group stage tiebreakers

According to the official 2021-22 Champions League competition rules, these are the tiebreakers used should two or more teams finish tied on points in the group-stage standings:          

  1. points obtained in group matches played among teams in question
  2. superior goal difference from group matches played among teams in question
  3. goals scored in group matches played among teams in question
  4. superior goal difference in all group matches
  5. goals scored in all group matches
  6. away goals scored in all group matches
  7. wins in all group matches
  8. away wins in all group matches
  9. disciplinary points total based only on yellow and red cards
  10. UEFA club coefficient

One twist to the tiebreaker rules: In the case three or more teams are deadlocked on points, tiebreakers Nos. 1-3 are first applied. If any teams are still tied after that process, then those same three tiebreakers are reapplied only to those remaining teams that are deadlocked before moving on to employ Nos. 4-10, if necessary.

MORE: Champions League group standings, results & highlights

Below are the tiebreaker scenarios for each group heading into final group-stage matchday on Dec. 8.

Group A tiebreakers

The only teams that could have finished tied on points entering the final day were RB Leipzig and Club Brugge. That scenario did not transpire after RB Leipzig beat Manchester City 2-1 and Club Brugge suffered a heavy defeat to PSG.

Those results left RB Leipzig with 7 points and Club Brugge in last place on 4 points. Leipzig claimed third place and will head into the Europa League knockout round playoffs

1. Manchester City (X) 12 6 4 2 0 18 10 +8
2. Paris Saint-Germain (X) 11 6 3 1 2 13 8 +5
3. RB Leipzig 7 6 2 3 1 15 14 +1
4. Club Brugge 4 6 1 4 1 6 20 -14

Group B tiebreakers

There were three teams within a single point heading into the final matchday and for that reason, there were four different scenarios in which the teams could have finished even on points. But those never came into play.

Porto went into the final day with a one-point lead on the other two, but managed to suffer a shock 3-1 home loss to last-place Atletico Madrid and watched the Spanish side overtake it for second place and the final knockout round berth in Group B.

AC Milan also blew it on the final day, losing at home to a Liverpool team that fielded several reserves. The Italians, currently in first place in Serie A, finished rock bottom of the group.

1. Liverpool (X) 18 6 6 0 0 17 6 +11
2. Atletico Madrid (X) 7 6 2 3 1 7 8 -1
3. FC Porto  5 6 1 3 2 4 11 -7
4. AC Milan 4 6 1 4 1 6 9 -3

Group C tiebreakers

Borussia Dortmund (9 points) finished tied on points with Sporting CP (9 points), but Sporting went into the final day having already won the tiebreaker based on the head-to-head goal difference (second tiebreaker): +1 vs. Dortmund’s -1 in their direct matchups. 

MORE: Champions League top scorers

So it was already known that Sporting CP would finish ahead of Borussia Dortmund for second place no matter the results on the final day.

1. Ajax (X) 18 6 6 0 0 20 5 +15
2. Sporting CP (X) 9 6 3 3 0 14 12 +2
3. Borussia Dortmund 9 6 3 3 0 10 11 -1
4. Besiktas JK 0 6 0 6 0 3 19 -16

Group D tiebreakers

No teams could have finished tied on points in the Group D standings. Here’s the final table:

1. Real Madrid (X) 15 6 5 1 0 14 3 +11
2. Inter Milan (X) 10 6 3 2 1 8 5 -3
3. FC Sheriff Tiraspol 7 6 2 3 1 7 11 -4
4. Shakhtar Donetsk 2 6 0 4 2 2 12 -10

Group E tiebreakers

There is one scenario that Barcelona and Benfica can finish even on points for second place, but it doesn’t bode well for the Blaugrana.

Barcelona & Benfica

  • Scenario: Barcelona (8 points), Benfica (8 points)

If Barcelona (7 points) ties its match at Bayern Munich, which would be considered a fantastic result under normal circumstances, it may not be enough to see it qualify for the Round of 16.

If Benfica (5 points) wins its match against last-place Dynamo Kyiv and finishes even with Barcelona on 8 points, it would claim second place based on the win and tie earned in the head-to-head matchups (first tiebreaker). 

Given the tiebreaker situation, Barcelona will need a win against one of the tournament favorites to guarantee a place in the knockouts.

Group F tiebreakers

There are three scenarios that could see teams tied on points in the Group F standings: 

Manchester United & Villarreal

  • Scenario: Manchester United (10 points), Villarreal (10 points)

The reason that Manchester United has already clinched first place in the group because it wins the first tiebreaker against Villarreal based on its victories in both head-to-head matches (six total points).

Atalanta & Young Boys

  • Scenario: Atalanta (7 points), Young Boys (7 points)

In case these two teams finished tied, Atalanta has already secured the tiebreaker over the Swiss side. The Italian side has a win and draw (four total points) in the two head-to-head matchups (first tiebreaker).

Villarreal & Young Boys

  • Scenario: Villarreal (7 points), Young Boys (7 points)

Young Boys would also lose out to Villarreal on the head-to-head tiebreaker since the Spanish club has two victories in the head-to-head matchups (six total points).

Group G tiebreakers

It can get pretty wild in Group G with the potential of a three-way tie:

LOSC Lille & Wolfsburg

  • Scenario: LOSC Lille (8 points), Wolfsburg (8 points)

This scenario would decide the second knockout-round berth in Group E, which would go to the German side. The only way this scenario materializes is with a Wolfsburg win against Lille on the final day. That win coupled with the 0-0 draw in France between these two teams would give Wolfsburg the tiebreaker on head-to-head points (4 vs. 1).

LOSC Lille, Wolfsburg & RB Salzburg

  • Scenario: LOSC Lille (8 points), Wolfsburg (8 points), RB Salzburg (8 points)

This scenario would be a three-way tie atop the group, with only two teams advancing to the knockouts and one team settling for third place and a Europa League playoff berth.

The first tiebreaker (points in head-to-head matchups) would see the teams ranked this way: 1) Wolfsburg (7 points), 2) RB Salzburg (6 points), 3) Lille (4 points). That ranking would crown Wolfsburg as Group G winner, RB Salzburg as group runner-up and Lille as the third-place team advancing to the Europa League playoffs.

Sevilla & Wolfsburg

  • Scenario: Sevilla (6 points), Wolfsburg (6 points)

Sevilla would claim this tiebreaker for third place and a Europa League playoff berth based on its win (2-0) and draw (1-1) in the two direct confrontations (4 points vs. Wolfsburg’s 1 point).

Sevilla & LOSC Lille

  • Scenario: Sevilla (9 points), LOSC Lille (9 points)

Lille would win this tiebreaker for first place in the group based on the win (2-1) and draw (0-0) secured against Sevilla in the head-to-head group matches (4 points vs. Sevilla’s 1 point).

Group H tiebreakers

No standings ties to speak of in Group H after Chelsea was held to a 3-3 draw in Saint Petersburg on the final matchday. Juventus took full advantage by winning its match and claiming first place in the group, thus earning a top seed in the Round of 16.

A victory for Chelsea would have seen it finish first on head-to-head goal differential against Juventus (second tiebreaker). As group runner-up, the Blues are sure to land a difficult opponent in the Round of 16.

FC Zenit had already locked up third place, which grants it a berth in the Europa League Round of 16 playoffs.

1. Juventus (X) 15 6 5 1 0 10 6 +4
2. Chelsea (X) 13 6 4 1 1 13 4 +9
3. FC Zenit  5 6 1 3 2 10 10 0
4. Malmo FF 1 6 0 5 1 1 14 -13


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