Following pressure from the best coaches across Europe at the annual Elite Club Coaches Forum, UEFA plans to review the away-goals rule in continental competitions. The rule, used to split teams who are level on aggregate in knockout ties in the Champions League and Europa League, has been around 1965 but could soon be scrapped.
After meeting with the likes of Jose Mourinho, Arsene Wenger, Massimiliano Allegri, Unai Emery, Julen Lopetegui, Thomas Tuchel and Carlo Ancelotti, Deputy secretary general of European football’s governing body, Giorgio Marchetti, confirmed FIFA would “open a discussion” on the future of the away goals rule. “The coaches think that scoring goals away is not as difficult as it was in the past,” Marchetti told reporters. “They consider the situation in football has changed and the weight of the away goals is not the same as many years ago when the rule was introduced.”
It’s hard not to agree with the best coaches in the business that the away goals rule is outdated and needs to be removed. The only time it was used in last years Champions League was when Roma edged past Shakhtar Donetsk in the Round of 16. A 2-2 aggregate score was separated by Cengiz Ünder scoring in the first leg. In an even game why should one goal have greater value than another?
Always hated the away goals rule. Kills so many games. @UEFA time for change?
— Gary Lineker (@GaryLineker) March 8, 2017
There is also an argument that away goals can kill a tie early on and can actually be counterproductive. The aim of the away goals is to entice the away side forward but it can also force the home side to defend, fearing the repercussions of an away goal.
At the highest level of today’s game, teams do not need encouraging to attack and the use of the away goals rule has diminished in recent years. The away goals rule has only been used twice in the Champions League in the last 3 seasons and only 13 times over the last decade. The numbers aren’t much better across the Europa League. Across 90 Europa League ties the away goals rule has come into play just 7 times in the last 3 seasons. Incredibly over 484 ties across the Champions League and the Europa League/ UEFA Cup in the last 10 years, the away goals rule has come into play just 37 times. The numbers clearly show that it’s not needed anymore.
The days of travelling far and away to a side you have little or no knowledge have changed. The massive disadvantage of playing away from home isn’t that great. A simple alternative would be to go to extra time and penalties after a draw.
The away goals rule had it’s day- ditch it and let the two teams scrap it out over 180 minutes.