Do you know what GF, GA, and GD mean in soccer? Soccer terms explained

Do you know what GF, GA, and GD mean in soccer? Soccer terms explained

Helix Odhiambo
February 11, 2024 at 4:24 PM
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Manchester City logo
Manchester City
FC Barcelona logo
FC Barcelona
Bayern Munich logo
Bayern Munich
Manchester United logo
Manchester United
Paris Saint Germain (PSG) logo

Soccer has dozens of stats that measure a player's abilities or a team's performance. The most crucial thing is the goals that determine a game's outcome. Some football stats have abbreviations like GF, GA, and GD, which make it difficult for many soccer enthusiasts to understand their meaning.

Erling Haaland scores a penalty against BSC Young Boys
Erling Haaland (L) of Manchester City scores from the penalty spot against BSC Young Boys during their UEFA Champions League match at Etihad Stadium on 7 November 2023. Photo: Marc Atkins
Source: Getty Images

Football league tables often feature abbreviated terms to avoid writing long words. It is, therefore, essential to understand what they mean for easy analysis of the standings and to know your team's performance. This article breaks down the meaning of GF, GA, and GD in football and their impact on your team's success.

Meaning of GF, GA, and GD in soccer

The abbreviations GF, GA, and GD mean Goals Against, Goals For, and Goal Difference, respectively. Goals are crucial to winning games, but the ability to find the back of the net depends on several factors, such as a team's strength, the nature of opponents, and luck.

What is GF in soccer?

Mohamed Salah scores against Arsenal in the Premier League
Mohamed Salah (R) of Liverpool scores the equaliser against Arsenal during their Premier League match at Anfield on 23 December 2023 in Liverpool, England. Photo: Andrew Powell
Source: Getty Images

The meaning of GF in football is Goals For, referring to the number of goals scored by a team during a competition or league. It mainly includes goals scored during the regular 90-minute full time and the extra time but not in penalty shootouts. Below is a table showing the final 2022-23 Premier League standing.










Man City


















Man United


















Manchester City won the league with more GF (94) and GD (61) and fewer GA (33). Teams with higher GF stats often perform well in a league or competition. While scoring more increases a team's chances of winning a match, points awarded remain intact. For instance, a side winning 1-0 earns three points, similar to another winning 7-0.

What is GA in soccer?

GA in football stands for Goal Against, referring to the number of goals a team has conceded in a season. It is a disappointing soccer stat that no one wants to see rise. Conceding more goals is proof of a weak defence, which opponents can exploit more to their advantage.

The lower the GA, the better. It shows that a squad has a solid and disciplined defence, enough to overcome some of the best attackers. Football teams with low GA also have higher chances of winning leagues than those that concede a lot.

What is GD in soccer?

Scoring more is crucial in competitions because it helps boost a team's GD stat. So, what does GD mean in football? It stands for Goal Difference, referring to the difference between the number of goals a team has scored and the ones they have conceded.

GD is an essential metric used to rank participants in a league table. The stat usually applies as the second tiebreaker when opponents have the same points. The higher the GD, the better the rank in the league.

How is GD calculated in football?

You subtract the number of goals conceded from the ones a team scored to get goal difference. A positive GD is when a team has scored more than conceded, while a negative GD is the vice versa. The GD will be zero if a team has the same number of goals scored and conceded.

Most GF, GA, and GD in Europe

Manchester City had the most GF (94 in 38 Premier League games) of any side in Europe's top five leagues in the 2022-23 season, while Spanish giants Barcelona conceded the fewest (20 in 38 La Liga matches).

Pep Guardiola's side also recorded the highest GD (61) in Europe as they retained their Premier League title, with 89 points and 33 GA.

Frequently asked questions

Manchester City players celebrate scoring a goal in the Champions League final
Manchester City players celebrate scoring against Inter Milan during their UEFA Champions League final at Ataturk Olympic Stadium in Istanbul, Turkiye, on 10 June 2023. Photo: Serhat Cagdas
Source: Getty Images

Every team aspire to score as much as possible against their opponents, but keeping a clean sheet is equally important to maintain a higher GD. Here are frequently asked questions about the soccer metrics and their influence on the sport.

What is the difference between GA and GD?

GA (Goals Against) refers to the goals conceded by a squad, while GD is the difference between GA and GF. The more GA there is, the lesser the GD.

Is GD more important than GA and GF?

GD is more helpful in a league table because it is often the second decider when rivals tie on points. However, one must have more GF and lesser GA to get a better GD.

How does GD work in the Premier League?

In the English Premier League, GD is the second determinant of a winner if teams finish with the same points at the end of the season. The third determinant is the GF metric, then a playoff between the two tying opponents.

One of the most memorable incidences when the Premier League used GD was in the 2011-12 season, when Manchester City won the league over Manchester United after tying on 89 points, thanks to their GD superiority of eight after a dramatic comeback against QPR in the final game took them to same points as United.

Does GD count in the World Cup?

Germany players applaud fans after their last game in the 2022 FIFA World Cup
Germany players applaud fans in disappointment following their exit from the 2022 FIFA World Cup group stages by goal difference. Photo: Marvin Ibo Guengoer
Source: Getty Images

FIFA introduced goal difference as a tiebreaker in the 1970 World Cup. It is often used in the group stage if nations tie on points before the last-16. Here is a breakdown of the determinants at the end of the World Cup group fixtures.

  • Points garnered
  • Goal difference
  • Number of goals scored
  • Points obtained in the games played between the tied teams
  • GD in the games played between the tied sides
  • Number of goals scored in the matches played between the tied rivals
  • Fair play points in all group games

Germany, Uruguay, and Mexico failed to progress to the R16 of the 2022 FIFA World Cup because of their inferior GD against their opponents.

What is GP and GS in football?

GP stands for Games Played. It refers to the number of matches a team has played in a competition. GS refers to the number of times a team has found the net of their opponents.

Final word

In soccer, GF, GA, and GD are crucial metrics when deciding tiebreakers. The Premier League, Bundesliga, French League 1, and the FIFA World Cup are among the top competitions using GD when teams tie on points. La Liga, Serie A, and the Champions League prioritise head-to-head records over GD.

READ ALSO: What are caps in soccer? A detailed explanation and the significance of the caps in soccer

Sports Brief expounded more on soccer caps and their meaning in a footballer's career. Caps is a commonly used word in football, referring to the number of times a footballer has played for their country in an official international match.

The history of soccer caps dates back to the 19th century and has become a crucial stat measuring a player's longevity in the national team. Follow the above link for more details.

Helix Odhiambo photo
Helix Odhiambo
Helix Odhiambo is an award-winning Kenyan journalist and content creator with over 6 years of experience. In 2016, he won the Goal Blaze Correspondent Award for young writers.