Problem statement:

Make country wise player list from the following html code


            <li>Steven Smith</li>
            <li>David Warner</li>
            <li>Mashrafe Mortaza</li>
            <li>Tamim Iqbal</li>
            <li>Eoin Morgan</li>
            <li>Jos Buttler</li>

Expected Output:

Australia- Steven Smith, David Warner

Bangladesh- Mashrafe Mortaza, Tamim Iqbal

England- Eoin Morgan, Jos Buttler

My Code:

import re

with open('playerlist.html', 'r') as f:
    text = f.read()

mytext = re.sub(r'[\n\t]', '', text)

pat = r'<li>(\w+?)<ol><li>(\w+\s?\w+)</li><li>(\w+\s?\w+)</li>'

cpat = re.compile(pat)

result = cpat.findall(mytext)

for a,b,c in result:
    print('{0}- {1}, {2}'.format(a,b,c))
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Regexps and HTML don’t go so well together. Better to parse the DOM. \$\endgroup\$
    – morbusg
    Oct 27, 2017 at 8:37

2 Answers 2


Regular expressions is not the right tool when it comes to parsing HTML. There are specialized HTML parsers that would do a better job resulting into a more robust and less fragile solution.

Just to name a few problems that exists in your current approach:

  • what if there are more than two players for a country
  • what if there are 0 players for a country
  • what if a country name contains a space or a single quote
  • what if a player's name consists of more than two words or contains a single quote
  • what if there are newlines after the opening or before the closing li tag

Instead, you may, for instance, use BeautifulSoup library:

from bs4 import BeautifulSoup

with open('playerlist.html', 'r') as input_file:
    soup = BeautifulSoup(input_file, "html.parser")

for country in soup.select("ul > li"):
    country_name = country.find(text=True, recursive=False).strip()
    players = [player.get_text(strip=True) for player in country.select("ol > li")]

    print('{country} - {players}'.format(country=country_name,
                                         players=', '.join(players)))

In addition to the hint of using a DOM parser given by others, you may also want to separate your concerns by splitting the parsing/grouping and processing/printing of the items.

from collections import defaultdict
from bs4 import BeautifulSoup
from bs4.element import NavigableString

def parse_players(html):
    """Parses players from the HTML text and groups them by country."""

    players_by_country = defaultdict(list)
    dom = BeautifulSoup(html, 'html5lib')
    ul = dom.find('ul')

    for li in ul.find_all('li', recursive=False):
        for item in li.contents:
            if isinstance(item, NavigableString):
                country = item.strip()

        ol = li.find('ol', recursive=False)

        for li_ in ol.find_all('li', recursive=False):

    return players_by_country

def print_players(players_by_country):
    """Formats players of each country."""

    for country, players in players_by_country.items():
        print('{}- {}'.format(country, ', '.join(players)))

if __name__ == '__main__':

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