The away goal rule in European football has been in place since 1965 and has persistently been breaking football fans’ hearts across the world. But for all the sorrow the rule brings, it adds an element of excitement to the two-legged ties.
Teams are more willing to attack when playing away from home and look to gain that all-important advantage, especially in those David vs Goliath matches. However, not everyone agrees.
You can argue that the rule creates an unfair advantage for those teams playing their second legs away from home, with attempts to remove the rule being rejected in the past. But it seems UEFA is now ready to give the green light to revamp said rule for next season’s Champions and Europa League.
The proposal is to remove the use of away goals after the match enters extra time. This would mean any away goal scored after the 90 minutes of the 2nd leg will not create an advantage for the away side.
Juventus and Cristiano Ronaldo fell victim to the current rule in this year’s Champions League. After drawing 3-3 over two legs with Porto, the game entered extra time. This meant the Portuguese side were given an additional 30 minutes to take advantage of the rule, which they did in the 115th minute. Now leading 4-3 on the night, but in reality 5-3, Juventus needed to score two goals to qualify. The Italian champions could only manage one and were eliminated from the competition.
The change of the rule would give each side a level playing field and appease an angered Cristiano Ronaldo. But maybe there’s another change which should be considered.
Away goals are not something that is used in England’s domestic competitions. The League Cup sees two-legged ties at the semi-final stage, but they go straight to extra time if the scores are level. The keywords here to be considered is extra time. Matches in the League Cup before the semi-finals and final have scrapped extra time altogether. Games that are level after 90 minutes go straight into a penalty shoot-out, and this may be something UEFA should consider.
Clubs may be happy with the proposed rule change for next season’s Champions and Europa leagues, but it doesn’t seem to solve the problem. The advantage would now shift to the home side, who are given 120 minutes of home soil football. Maybe Uefa should follow in the FA’s footsteps, with the removal of extra time an obvious answer that has gone a miss.
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