How To

How Do You Read Soccer Standings?


For those new to the sport seeking to grasp the fundamental aspects of soccer, one essential skill to acquire is the ability to decipher a soccer table.

Contrary to any assumptions, a soccer table isn’t a tangible item found on the field. Rather, it’s an informative display that encapsulates the current rankings of each participating club within a league. Presented below is an illustrative example drawn from the Premier League’s 2020–21 season, which will serve as a visual aid to enhance comprehension in the subsequent explanation. This guide aims to assist newcomers in comprehending the essential components of a soccer table, contributing to a well-rounded understanding of the sport’s dynamics.


The soccer table functions as a concise overview of the teams’ performance in relation to one another. A quick glance offers insight into the standing of each team—indicating those that are thriving and those facing challenges.

However, delving deeper into the sport’s dynamics requires more than just observing the number of wins a team has accumulated. It’s essential to grasp the significance of additional metrics, which, surprisingly, is relatively straightforward. Understanding these metrics not only enhances your comprehension of the game but also contributes to a more comprehensive appreciation of the intricacies of soccer. This guide aims to simplify the interpretation of these metrics, allowing newcomers to navigate the world of soccer with greater ease and insight.

How Does a Soccer Table Work?

In a standard soccer table, you’ll typically encounter an array of approximately 8 columns, each holding valuable information.

The initial quartet of columns encompasses concepts that are readily comprehensible and require minimal elucidation:

  1. MP – Games Played/Match Played: This denotes the total number of matches a team has participated in up to the current point in the season.
  2. W – Win: A straightforward record of the number of victories a team has secured.
  3. D – Draw: This column quantifies the instances when two teams conclude a match with an equal number of goals, resulting in a draw.
  4. L – Loss: This column tabulates the occurrences of matches where a team faces defeat.

Moving onward, the latter half of the soccer table introduces metrics that offer deeper insights:

  1. GF – Goals For: Reflects the cumulative tally of goals a team has successfully scored across its matches.
  2. GA – Goals Against: Indicates the combined sum of goals conceded by a team throughout its matches.
  3. GD – Goal Difference: This metric results from subtracting the number of goals against (GA) from the goals scored (GF), providing a net value that illuminates a team’s performance in terms of goal management.
  4. Pts – Total points: Accumulates the points earned by a team throughout the season, based on wins and draws.

For those new to soccer, a refresher on the fundamental principles: wins, draws, and losses encompass the foundational outcomes of matches. A win merits 3 points, while a draw is rewarded with 1 point. In contrast, a loss doesn’t contribute any points to a team’s standing. Over the course of the season, these points are tallied, with the team accruing the highest total emerging as the ultimate victor. The intricacies of soccer tables encompass a dynamic interplay of metrics, unraveling the multifaceted journey of each team through the competition.

How Do You Know Who’s the Champion?

Ultimately, the honor of championship is bestowed upon the team that amasses the highest count of points as the season draws to a close. Unlike formats involving playoffs or knockout stages, this system relies solely on the accumulation of points earned throughout the season.

In its essence, the principle governing victory is elegantly simple: the team with the most points emerges triumphant.

As the logical outcome of such a scoring framework, tie scenarios inevitably arise. Addressing these situations requires recourse to a series of established protocols and determinants that set the stage for resolution.

What Happens When There’s a Tie?


This is where the significance of GF, GA, and GD becomes apparent. Typically, these statistics may appear inconsequential unless a tie situation emerges or when engaging in fantasy football pursuits.

Before delving deeper, it’s imperative to grasp the fundamental definitions of these three terms.

What Do GF, GA, and GD Stand For?

GF, denoting “Goals For,” signifies the comprehensive sum of goals that a team has successfully netted across all matches they’ve participated in.

Conversely, GA, representing “Goals Against,” encapsulates the cumulative tally of goals scored by opposing teams in matches against them.

The metric GD, succinctly termed “Goal Difference,” entails the subtraction of GA from GF. A positive GD indicates that a team has outscored the goals conceded, while a negative GD implies that the team has yielded more goals than they’ve managed to score. This trio of statistics assumes a pivotal role in comprehending a team’s performance dynamics and holds particular relevance in tiebreaker scenarios or strategic considerations in the realm of fantasy football.

How Do Tiebreakers Work?

In the course of a season, tiebreakers emerge quite frequently, infusing matches with heightened intensity as teams strive to overcome the deadlock.

Consider the scenario involving teams ranked 9th and 10th in the table, both boasting an identical 59-point total. In such instances, the team with the superior GD ascends to the higher position.

Examining the provided illustration, Leeds United showcases a GD of 8, contrasting with Everton’s -1 GD. Consequently, Leeds United secures a higher ranking by a solitary position.

This underscores the pivotal significance of goals scored against opponents in shaping a team’s standing. The delicate balance of standings often remains in close proximity, where a solitary goal can wield the power to steer a team away from relegation or toward a coveted berth.

This juncture naturally leads us to the subsequent facet of the discussion.

What If Several Teams Have the Same Points and GD Total?

Let’s delve into the same season within the Premier League, where the intricacies of tiebreakers become evident.

The table presented below showcases a striking parity between Newcastle and Wolves, both commanding an equivalent GD of -16. In a strikingly frequent occurrence, such tie situations materialize more often than one might anticipate.

In this specific instance, when confronted with matching GD and identical points tally, the differentiating factor boils down to the team with the higher GF—a distinction secured by Newcastle.

This narrative, where fine margins delineate standings, unfolds with surprising regularity. A few more strategic interventions by Manchester United, and they could have easily laid claim to the coveted championship title, altering the trajectory of the season.

What If Two Teams or More are Tied for the Same Points, GD, and GF?


Should the tied teams find themselves vying for neither championship triumph, relegation evasion, nor qualifications to other prestigious competitions, they would gracefully share an identical position on the table.

However, when the tiebreaker stakes involve any of these crucial determinants, an exceptional course of action ensues. The teams embroiled in such contention would convene for a playoff match, hosted on neutral terrain, effectively neutralizing any inherent home-field advantage.

Although such occurrences are relatively rare, when they do transpire, these playoff encounters claim the spotlight as the season’s most pivotal showdown. For the participating teams, this match becomes an unparalleled culmination of their efforts, bearing significant implications for their respective trajectories within the sport.

Notable League Soccer Table Examples

Allow me to illustrate the significance of unwavering commitment throughout the season through a couple of telling examples. Even the impact of a solitary goal can tip the scales between clinching a championship and settling for the second spot.

During the 2011–12 Premier League season, a riveting narrative unfolded as Manchester City and Manchester United culminated with identical 89-point tallies. Both titans were entrenched in the championship chase.

The climax of this season’s epic duel was determined by the pivotal GD (Goal Difference) factor. Manchester City emerged as the victor, etching their name on the championship trophy due to their commanding GD of 64, which outshone Manchester United’s commendable 56 GD.

Similarly, a historical echo resonates from the 1988–89 season of the same league. Arsenal ascended to championship glory by virtue of a superior GF (Goals For). In a compelling alignment of points and GD with Liverpool, it was Arsenal’s prolific goal-scoring prowess that proved to be the ultimate game-changer. These instances underscore how the tiniest nuances, encapsulated within goals and GD, can delineate the fine line between hoisting the championship trophy and settling for the runner-up accolade.

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