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

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 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, and after applying tiebreakers Nos. 1-3 teams are still tied, then tiebreakers Nos. 1-3 are reapplied only to those remaining teams that are still tied before moving on to Nos. 4-10.

MORE: Champions League group standings, results & highlights

Below are the tiebreaker scenarios for each group heading into final group-stage matchday played on Dec. 7-8.


Group A tiebreakers

The only teams that can finished tied on points in Group A are RB Leipzig and Club Brugge.

RB Leipzig & Club Brugge

  • Scenario 1: RB Leipzig (4 points), Club Brugge (4 points)
  • Scenario 2: RB Leipzig (5 points), Club Brugge (5 points)
  • Scenario 3: RB Leipzig (7 points), Club Brugge (7 points)

Given that both teams won a game in their two head-to-head matchups, we have to use the second tiebreaker on the list: goal difference in head-to-head matches. RB Leipzig (+4 goal difference) wins that tiebreaker outright after they registered a big 5-0 win against Brugge (-4 goal difference) in the last match.


Group B tiebreakers

There are three teams within a single point heading into the final matchday. Here are the tiebreaker scenarios:

Porto & AC Milan

  • Scenario: Porto (5 points), AC Milan (5 points)

Porto and AC Milan can finish tied on five points if Milan draw (vs. Liverpool) and Porto loses to Atletico Madrid. By virtue of a win (1-0) and draw (1-1) in the two head-to-head matchups, Porto would finish ahead based on the first tiebreaker (points in head-to-head matches).

AC Milan & Atletico Madrid

  • Scenario 1: AC Milan (4 points), Atletico Madrid (4 points)
  • Scenario 2: AC Milan (5 points), Atletico Madrid (5 points)
  • Scenario 3: AC Mailn (7 points), Atletico Madrid (7 points)

Since they enter the final matchday level on points and they play in separate matches, AC Milan and Atletico can potentially finish tied on points in three different scenarios.

MORE: Champions League final day scenarios

Both teams have a win in the two head-to-head matchups (first tiebreaker), and they have identical goal difference (0) and goals scored (2) in those meetings (second and third tiebreakers). So we have to jump to the fourth tiebreaker on the list: goal difference in all group matches. AC Milan has the slight edge there for now (-2 vs. -3), but that can obviously change on the final matchday.


Group C tiebreakers

Borussia Dortmund (6 points) could finish tied on points with Sporting CP (9 points), but Sporting goes into the final day with the tiebreaker already won based on the head-to-head matchups:

Sporting CP & Borussia Dortmund

  • Scenario: Sporting CP (9 points), Borussia Dortmund (6 points)

While both teams won a match in the two head-to-heads (first tiebreaker), Sporting CP has the better goal difference in those matchups at +1 vs. Dortmund’s -1 (second tiebreaker).

MORE: Champions League top scorers

So whatever the results in the final matchday, Sporting CP will finish ahead of Borussia Dortmund, which is the reason the team has already officially clinched a knockout-round berth.


Group D tiebreakers

No teams can finish tied on points in the Group D standings.


Group E tiebreakers

No teams can finish tied on points in the Group E standings.


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  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 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 the second knockout-round berth in Group E, which would go to the 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 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

There are potential ties between the top two teams as well as the bottom two teams:

Chelsea & Juventus

  • Scenario 1: Chelsea (12 points), Juventus (12 points)
  • Scenario 2: Chelsea (13 points), Juventus (13 points)
  • Scenario 3: Chelsea (15 points), Juventus (15 points)

Chelsea has already captured the tiebreaker against Juventus should both teams finish even on points after the sixth and final round of group matches are played.

Although both teams won a head-to-head match, Chelsea has the better goal differential in the direct confrontations: +3 for Chelsea vs. -3 for Juventus.

FC Zenit & Malmo FF

  • Scenario: FC Zenit (4 points), Malmo FF (4 points)

If Zenit loses its final match and Malmo wins, the two teams would finish even on four points. But since Zenit has a win (4-0) and draw (1-1) in the two head-to-head matchups against Malmo, it wins the tiebreaker on points in direct meetings. 

For that reason, Zenit has already locked up third place and a spot in the Europa League knockout round playoffs.