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UEFA Away Goals Rule To Discontinue Or Not (2021)

Regardless whether the “Away Goal” Rule has served the purpose (since it was first introduced in the 1960’s); this Rule is clearly dated and further ruins the beauty of the modern game of Football.

Instead of persisting with the “Away Goals” Rules; the relevant UEFA Authorities needs to ascertain better Rules to determine Tiebreakers that are more in sync with the modern game of Football.

The once ground-breaking Rule has been used in European Football for over half-a-century to encourage Teams to attack away from home.

 

As a means of determining the Tiebreaker; the “Away Goals” Rule was first introduced in the now defunct European Cup Winners Cup 1965-66 Competition.

After the “Away Goals” Rule proved to be a success; it was then then introduced in the European Cup couple of years later.

Prior to the introduction of the “Away Goals” Rule; the Away Teams would happily “Park the Bus” in a bid to take a clean sheet back home thereby resulting in a very low percentage of the Legs in European Cup ties being won by the Away Team.

Since Football itself is an evolving game; several Coaches past and present felt that scoring Goals Away is not as difficult as it was in the 1960’s mainly because the relevance of the Away Goal has become far bigger.

 

To some extent this is proven right; as in this decade the percentage of the Away Team winning increased slightly higher.

Particularly the games in the Champions League Group Stages onwards have been won by visiting Teams.

Atlético Madrid most recently became the beneficiary of the absurd “Away Goals” Rule as the Spanish side knocked off Liverpool Fc (The Reds) in the Champions League 2019-20 Round of 16.

 

The complications and intricacies of the “Away Goal” Rule proves the difficulty to play a Second Leg at home as the Reds had only 30 Extra Minutes after they conceded a Goal during the Extra Time as that meant that the Reds needed to score twice.

Yet this would not happen, had the Reds played the First Leg of the Champions League 2019-20 Round of 16 against Atlético Madrid at Anfield.

 

Here are some of the simple justifications on why UEFA needs to quickly discontinue the absurd “Away Goals” Rule and replace with better Rules to determine Tiebreakers.

  1. “Away Goals” Rule Predetermines Strategies and Tactics: Every manager prepares specific strategies and tactics; in order to get the best out of the players as well as neutralise the abilities of the Opponents.

With “Away Goals” Rules; home Team Managers looks to invariably set up their Teams to keep a clean sheet particularly in the First Leg.

Crucially for the sake of Football, the “Away Goals” Rule should not be a factor that influences the Manager’s decisions or make them feel manipulated.

 

  1. The “Away Goal” Rules makes a total derision of Extra Time: The Reds v Atlético Madrid Champions League 2019-20 Second Leg serves as a good example on why the “Away Goals” Rule is ridiculous in Extra Time.

This is due to another complicated aspect of the “Away Goal” Rule that whenever a tie exceeds 180 minutes, the visiting side always has the upper hand.

Another fine example is the Italian side S.S.C. Napoli v Chelsea Fc (The Blues) in the Champions League 2011-12 Quarter-final.

Following their 3-1 loss in the First Leg, the Blues bounced back with a 4-1 win at Stamford Bridge.

The Goal from Branislav Ivanovic in the 105th minute won the contest for the Blues. What would happen, if the Italian side scored the Goal in the 119th minute?

Then such a fictitious Goal would have made it a 5-5 aggregate draw and (instead of the Blues), the Italian side would have progressed to the next Round on “Away Goals”.

So, does that mean that fictitious Goal would have been worth much more than Ivanovic’s Goal? 

This further validates on why the “Away Goals” Rule is absurd. Besides the Revenue and Commerical reasons, there is no logical reason why UEFA should persist in enforcing the “Away Goals” Rule from the game point of view.

In theory; the least UEFA could do is scrap the “Away Goal” for Extra Time Or let the game simply head straight to Penalty Shootouts, especially during this Season that has became further complicated due to the effects of COVID-19.

There is absolutely no logical sense of one Team being able to play the entire 120 minutes with the “Away Goals” advantage while the other Team gets only 90 minutes (in effect)!

 

  1. The “Away Goals” Rule wrecks the beauty of a Two Legged Aggregate Draw: Another fine example is the Blues v Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) Fc (Champions League 2013-14 Quarter-final). In the First Leg, the Parisians beat the Blues 3-1 at home. However; the Blues managed to claw their way back to win the Second Leg 2-0 at home.

After 180 minutes of entertaining Football, the aggregate scoreline was a starkly representative 3-3. Yet, the Blues thanks to an Away Goal from Eden Hazard v PSG helped the Blues to advance to the next Round on “Away Goals”.

This is the kind of scenarios that has played out every season and it is undoubtedly unfair besides the fact that the “Away Goal” Rule itself is illogic.

To rightly paraphrase Gertrude Stein, “a draw is a draw is a draw is a draw”. Regardless of when it is scored, one Goal is just as valuable as another Goal.

So, better ways has to be ascertained in order to determine a winner if the aggregate score is tied over the 2 Legs.

 

  1. The “Away Goals” Rule makes the game counterproductive: Another major drawback of the “Away Goals” Rule is that the Rule can be massive deterrent for the Managers of the home side to think of trying to get a clean sheet first or avoid conceding a Goal and scoring the second.

The “Away Goals” Rule was introduced in the 1960’s in order to encourage the visiting side to attack more but at the same time, it has since coaxed the home side to sit back and defend with less priority for Goal scoring.

This knock-on effect thereby makes the game lose its vigour and beauty even more.

 

  1. The “Away Goals Rule” is clearly dated: Back when the “Away Goals” Rule was introduced in the 1960’s, counter attacks consisted of one player or maybe two players at the most.

But with the evolution of the game, counter attacks now consists of players flooding forward in numbers with blistering pace and quick passes.

Back when the “Away Goal” Rules was introduced, the state of Football pitches were not good compared to nowadays, so coming out of defence with passes were much difficult that thereby led to the Teams back then to be more reluctant.

 

Verdict: Without the undue pressures of “Away Goals” Rules”; every Football Matches (regardless of where the knockout stage is held) should be played between the participating Teams in the game’s true state with the atmosphere being further enhanced by the fans in attendance (by home and travelling supporters).

As such; “Away Goals” Rule is not only an unnecessary dated Rule, but also ruins the vigour and beauty of the modern game of Football.

Despite talks of UEFA considering the review of the “Away Goals” Rule; such reviews so far has yet to materialise.

In a complicated Season exacerbated further due to the effects of COVID-19; UEFA as such were forced to rip up the European Football Rulebook.

Still; the “Away Goals” Rule remains to be ripped up, even when many Teams were forced to play at neutral venues as “Home Teams” (per se) this Season.

Worse of all, this absurd Rule looks likely to remain in place at least for the foreseeable future.

 

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