The away goal rule has come into much talk as of recent weeks and mostly with English clubs. Arsenal lost 3-1 at home to Bayern Munich, but won 2-0 in Munich, but didn’t go through. Tottenham won 3-0 at home against Inter, but lost 4-1 in extra-time… they went through. Had Chelsea won 2-1 at home to Steaua, it would of been Bucharest going through.
The rule determines that away goals count double towards the aggregate score in two-legged fixtures such as the Champions League knockout stages. Today, the rationale is to avoid extra time and penalties as tiebreakers, and to encourage the visiting team to be more aggressive.
The rule has proved pivotal in each of the last five Champions League knockout stages. Last season, for example, Marseille eliminated Internazionale for scoring a goal at the San Siro. Inter beat Bayern Munich in the Round of 16 the year before that with a 3-3 aggregate score. In 2009/10, Bayern had their turn of benefiting by Fiorentina with a crucial equalizing strike at the Stadio Artemio Franchi.
On each occasion, the “losing” side has been eliminated without really being defeated thanks to the rule which should be removed, in my opinion.
The away goal rule leads to too much strategy and tactics, in my opinion. Whether that’s the new trend of modern football, that’s up to you. But, I would much prefer it to be based on aggregate. It would lead to more interesting matches and ties as the strategy of playing away and home would most definitely change. You would see a new approach to every match and we’d see more extra time matches and more penalty shootouts (possibly).
Many clubs would feel harshly done. Some would argue they brought it on themselves by a poor performance in the 1st leg, However according to The Guardian‘s Jonathan Wilson, just 16 percent of European matches resulted in an away victory when the rule was created. Today, that number is between 30 and 35 percent.
Also everyone likes more interesting matches right? I certainly do. I wouldn’t mind some more action, the fans wouldn’t either. The rule is perfect for strategists who can alter their tactics for both matches to fit what they want to achieve. And in last year’s competition, six of the 13 Champions League knockout-stage first-leg ties resulted in 1-0 or 0-0 scorelines. In the second-leg ties, there was an average of 4.4 goals per game.
Arsenal coach Arsene Wenger said this in 2008 :
“I believe the tactical weight of the away goal has become too important, teams get a 0-0 draw at home and they’re happy. Instead of having a positive effect it has been pushed too far tactically in the modern game. It has the opposite effect than it was supposed to have at the start. It favours defending well when you play at home.”
For me, it’s a rule that’s not fair… teams are said to be beaten, but really aren’t beaten. The original reason for the rule’s creation is no longer the reason behind the away goal rule. UEFA/FIFA should ditch the rule instead of trying to alter the format of competitions.