THE ABOLISHMENT OF THE AWAY GOAL RULE

JARI Litmanen joy after scoring 2 goals in the victory against Panaithinaikos in the semi final

The incumbent UEFA President Alexander Cefferin had made a big announcement last month regarding the UEFA club competition. The away goals will not be used anymore to decide the home and away knockout stages starting from these seasons. Due to these, they will be significant changes as the away goals had been used to determine the home and away knockout tie since the 1960s. The away goals will come in effect when both teams levelled, and the team that scored the most away goals will progress to the next round or the final. These situations happened because the away goals will be doubled when the score is levelled on aggregate giving the team that scored the most away goals a massive advantage.

What is the ramification of the away goal abolishment in the knockout from these seasons onwards?

The first pros are that the tie will be back to standard knockout stages even though it is a home and away match.  The team that scored the goals will not have many advantages as the tie will be decided in extra time and the penalty shootout. Hence the goals scored does not become a factor anymore. The team does not chance goals anymore to progress on aggregate

Although the away goal rule can create the excitement of goals, the law itself is archaic. Archaic rules that had been changed where the goalkeeper is prohibited to caught a backpass, the referee uniform had been changed from black to yellow colours, the linesman had been promoted as an assistant referee, and finally, the introduction of the video assistant referee.  Parallel with these, UEFA is deemed to be justified to erase the away goals rules.

In the away goal rules regulation, the team that had scored the away goals will tend to sit back and hold on to their advantages as they knew the opposing team must score to progress to the next round. With abolishing these rules, the team will no longer have these advantages, as they knew that the opposition just needed to score fewer goals to take the tie to the extra time or penalty shootout. In the 2012 UEFA Champion League second leg, Barcelona had conceded an away goal to Chelsea in the final minutes of the first half, which had led Barcelona to chase the game. If current regulation is applied in these games, Barcelona does not need to chase the game as both teams are levelled on aggregate with no advantages of an away goal.  

With the abolishment of the away goals, the excitement of a goal created had been taken away too. The joy of Tottenham Hotspur sealing their place in the final will no longer be seen in the current rules; the tie will be taken to the extra time due to abolishing the away goals. With the away goal conceded by the team, the tie complexity will be changed accordingly as the team that conceded the away goal need to chase the game to score more goals to progress via aggregate.

The hallmark and zeal of the UEFA Champion League, where the away goals can be a decider, had been removed altogether. The away goals may be archaic, but the excitement created when a team has scored the game-changing away goal is the hallmark and zeal of the UEFA club competition.

Which can lead to another disadvantage as more games can be decided in the extra time. The club competition is sandwiched between the gruelling league season, which includes the domestic cup competition can be detrimental to the player performance. The player may need more minutes paralleled with more games, leading to many unwanted injuries to the clubs’ key players. Furthermore, if the game can’t be decided in the extra time, a penalty shootout will determine the winner of the tie. The shootout many given an enormous advantage for the home team.

The abolishment of the away goals divides opinions and criticism where some sections justify the decision, and some oppose it. The data that UEFA used to justify these decisions may have some truth. The home and away, which had a significant factor for some big clubs, had been eroded as many teams regularly gained the away win. Atletico Madrid won against Liverpool in Anfield in 2019 to progress to the quarter-final. Tottenham Hotspur had clinched their first-ever UEFA Champion League in 2018 after gaining an away win against Ajax in Netherland. The Ajax 2019 team had reached the quarter-final stages after earning an away win in Spain against Real Madrid.

Many teams had gained an away win in some of the toughest stadiums in the European continent, such as Nou Camp, Anfield, Allianz Arena and many other. They are another reason too. The away goals are implemented to eliminate the need for a 3rd tie played on a neutral ground. Since the penalty shootout had been introduced to eradicate replay and to decided on someday, they need for the away goals as decided indeed is archaic.  

The away goals had a critical component in making the UEFA Champion League truly exciting. The instant changes of the complexity of the game and the excessive celebration of some managers and players after scoring the away goals will be non-existent in the upcoming Champion League season anymore. No score will be given any team advantages anymore. Once a team win in a home tie without conceding a goal and scoring an away goal in the away tie will provide them with an enormous advantage.

In the incoming UEFA Champion League, these advantages will be a thing in the past and no longer hold any significance.  

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