UEFA.com crunches the key numbers ahead of the start of the group stage including how many points will be required to progress and the importance of away form.
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There may be no magic formula for winning the UEFA Champions League but when it comes to surviving the group stage, history can offer the teams kicking off the new season a few pointers as to just what it required.
UEFA.com has looked at the data from every campaign from 2003/04 – when the single group stage format resumed – and the message to the 32 sides involved on matchday one is that ten points should be the minimum aim for a top-two finish.
Last season three sides survived without reaching double figures, yet looking over the last 11 seasons, it has taken 10.1 points on average to progress. To finish as group winners, meanwhile, 13 points must be the target. Teams with their sights on top spot should also note that a good start is vital and that it will take more than ten goals to get there.
• Group winners are typically collecting 13 points – essentially 4 wins and 1 draw.
• Last season, teams winning their groups achieved the 2nd-highest average since 2003/04 with 13.9 points – almost a point above the 11-season average of 13.
• The average points' total achieved by 2nd-placed teams is 10.1; the equivalent of 3 wins and 1 draw, or 2 wins and 4 draws.
• Teams finishing in 3rd place have typically picked up an average of 7 points.
Highs & lows
• Since 2003/04, only Real Madrid CF in 2011/12 have won all 6 matches and obtained the maximum 18 points.
• The lowest points' tally for a team winning a group was APOEL FC's 9 in 2011/12.
• Both Madrid clubs won their groups with 16 points last term. Chelsea FC and Borussia Dortmund had the lowest winning totals with 12 apiece.
A strong start
The stats also show that it is important to hit the ground running in the UEFA Champions League. No club since Liverpool FC in 2004/05 have reached the final after losing one of their opening two fixtures.
Our graphic (which splits the six matchdays into pairs: 1 and 2, 3 and 4 etc.) shows that teams finishing first in their group typically:
a) pick up more points than their rivals in the first two matches;
b) pick up the most points on average in the first two matches. This would suggest a good start is key to a successful group stage campaign.
Home and away
It seems logical that aspiring group winners must pick up more points away from home than weaker sides, and our analysis shows that first-placed teams have typically picked up at least five points on the road in the group stage. To finish second, four points should be the goal.
• Overall from 2003/04 onwards, 46.3% of group games have resulted in a home win, 27.2% in an an away success and 22.5% in a draw.
Finding the net
The evidence of the past 11 seasons suggest that to win a UEFA Champions League group, a team must be averaging nearly two goals per game. After all, the data shows that 11.5 goals is the average haul over six games by group winners since 2003/04. For second-placed teams, the average is 9.2.
Champions Real Madrid were a long way above the average with their scoring output last term. They hit ten goals in their three home fixtures in the 2013/14 group stage while the average for teams winning their group is 6.6 home goals – or 2.2 goals per game. They also managed ten goals in their three away matches, surpassing by some distance the average of 4.9 goals for group winners over their three matches.
• Last season, the highest goal tally of a group winner was Real Madrid's 20. The lowest tally was Borussia Dortmund's 11.
• 20 is the highest number of goals by any group winner since 2003/04 – a tally achieved on two occasions by Real Madrid (2013/14) and FC Barcelona (2011/12).
• 3 is the lowest number of a group winner – Villarreal CF (2005/06)
For more statistical analysis, review UEFA.com's look at how seedings have historically translated into results.