How Chelsea can qualify for UCL knockout stages after 4-4 Ajax draw

Chelsea's players celebrate

Chelsea and Ajax played out one of the games of the season at Stamford Bridge in the UEFA Champions League (UCL), with the score somehow locked at 4-4 by the end of it.

While the action may have been intense from start to finish, it threw up more questions than answers when it comes to the Group H overall standings.

The FOX Sports Asia UEFA Champions League page shows that Ajax are now slightly ahead of Chelsea in the Group H table, but sit on the same number of points as the Blues (7).

A closer look shows that Valencia are also on 7 points after four matches, throwing up some interesting scenarios regarding which two teams will eventually qualify for the UCL knockout stages.

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What this points tally essentially means is that there is now a three-way battle to decide who goes through. Understanding the UCL tie-breaker system is key to figuring out each team’s chances.

Tie-breaker #1: Head-to-head points

Since there are three teams on the same number of points, when we discount Lille, we find that two sides are on four points and one is on three points in head-to-head competition.

1. Chelsea – 4 points (win away at Ajax, draw at home against Ajax, loss at home against Valencia)

2. Ajax – 4 points (win away at Valencia, draw away at Chelsea, loss at home against Chelsea)

3. Valencia – 3 points (win away at Chelsea, loss at home against Ajax)

This proves that two sides are still on the same number of points (4 points).

Tie-breaker #2: Head-to-head goal difference

After considering the points, we now look to goal difference, and considering there are three teams involved, the revised head-to-head goal difference looks a bit like this.

1. Ajax (+2)

2. Chelsea (0)

This keeps Ajax on top of the group, but if you’re a Chelsea fan, fear not, as you still need to play Valencia away from home and that could be a tasty encounter.

If the Blues end up beating Valencia in Spain, that more or less guarantees them a spot in the knockout round of the UCL considering they have a better head-to-head record against Ajax when we consider just two teams on the same points.

However, if Chelsea end up losing, it could prove disastrous in the case of Ajax beating Lille, since they would now have a three point deficit and would drop down to third in the group and end up clutching at straws to secure qualification to the knockout stages.