Can Aston Villa Secure Group E in their next game?
During the past couple of rounds of the Europa Conference League, there’s been confusion from some Villa supporters to why Villa have been placed second in their group table, despite having a superior goal difference to Legia Warsaw. The simple explanation has been because of Legia’s better head-to-head record, due to their 3-2 win in Warsaw in the group’s opening game.
With that in mind, can Villa actually win the group by beating Legia Warsaw at Villa Park with one game to go? Or would Legia Warsaw still be able to win the group, if Villa got beat in Mostar? If they beat AZ Alkmaar at home in the group’s final round.
In short, a two-goal win at Villa Park would secure the group, due to Article 16.01 (b) of the UEFA rules on the matter (see below).
A One Goal Win…
If Villa won by one goal, then it gets trickier. We’re assuming that away goals are not factored into 16.01’s (b) ‘goal difference’, since it clearly refers to away goals in the context of overall record in all the group matches later on in the article.
If Villa did beat Legia by a single goal, then it looks like overall goal difference across all group matches would be the main factor.
If Villa beat Legia by a single goal, they would have a +5 goal difference going into the final game, while Legia would only have a +2.
So, as long as Villa only lost by a single goal against Zrinjski, then Legia Warsaw would still have an uphill task. They would need to beat AZ by at least three goals to be certain, with a two-goal win needing them to also outscore Villa across the group stage to satisfy UEFA article 16.01(f) (see below). Villa, currently have scored 9 goals to Legia’s 7, a two-goal difference, which would be increased, if Villa won in their head-to-head clash at Villa Park.
In short, barring a minor miracle in the final group games, it’s looks like the group is as good as Villa’s, if they beat Legia Warsaw at Villa Park, by any score, on Thursday 30th November.
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UEFA Rules on Equal Points
Article 16 Equality of points – group stage
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) if, after having applied criteria a) to c), teams still have an equal ranking, criteria a) to c) are reapplied exclusively to the matches between the remaining teams to determine their final rankings. If this procedure does not lead to a decision, criteria e) to k) apply in the order given to the two or more teams still equal;
e) superior goal difference in all group matches;
f) higher number of goals scored in all group matches;
g) higher number of away goals scored in all group matches;
h) higher number of wins in all group matches;
i) higher number of away wins in all group matches;
j) lower disciplinary points total based only on yellow and red cards received by players and team officials in all group matches (red card = 3 points, yellow card = 1 point, expulsion for two yellow cards in one match = 3 points);
k) higher club coefficient (see Annex D).