Why No Away Goals Means Better Matches – Major European Soccer Rule Change

The Champions League knockout rounds are upon us, so what does UEFA’s scrapping of the away goals rule mean for the upcoming matches?
The scrapping of the away goals rule should lead to more exciting games.

The scrapping of the away goals rule should lead to more exciting games.

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Why No Away Goals Means Better Matches

Now the Champions League Last 16 second legs are upon us, it’s important to remember that as of the 2021/22 season, UEFA has made a major change to their European club soccer competition format by eliminating the away goals rule. For those who are unaware, this rule states that any goal scored away from home in a two-legged tie is worth double - but only in the event of an aggregate tie.

For example, if PSG wins 3-1 away at Manchester City but loses 2-0 at home - the scores will be level at 4-4. This means that the away goals are now worth double, and the three PSG scored away from home gives them the advantage and sees them progress to the next round.

So, what does this change mean for soccer fans?

More Extra Time & Penalties

The biggest change that will arise from this is that more games will be going to extra time with the possibility of penalties as fewer games will be settled in regulation time.

This is great news for the neutral viewer as extra time, and particularly penalties, are a great source of drama. In fact, penalty shootouts have transcended traditional soccer and have found their way into a variety of different media. They're used in-game shows as tasks for the contestants, such as in "Who Dares Wins'', and there are video games where the gameplay is entirely based around penalty shootouts. There are even slot machines such as the aptly named "Shoot Out" that use penalty shootouts as a theme to add even more excitement to their games. Watching a slot machine reel spin round is already tense enough, but add in the excitement of a penalty shootout theme, and you've got a really compelling game on your hands! If these games sound fun to you, it's important to find the best online casinos to play at to make sure you have the best gaming experience possible. They provide guides on what to look for in a great site and list the best bonuses and other features each operator has to offer. It's a great way to capture the thrill and excitement of a penalty shootout on a European night without having to play a two-legged tie to get there.

With the increased likelihood of games going to extra time and penalties, we can expect to see a change of tactics from previous seasons. Before, if a team had scored an away goal in the first leg in a 1-1 draw, that team would likely go through if the sides were evenly matched. However, without the away goal advantage, that team also needs to play for a win and can’t sit back on their away goals lead.

More Attacking Games

Another change you can expect to see is more attacking games in the first leg. Previously, the common strategy for the home team in the first leg was to play very defensively in order not to concede an away goal and try to steal one in the second leg. This is one of the main reasons why so many people were in favor of eliminating this rule - it just made for boring matches!

Throughout the past few years, it was usually a safe bet that if the home team was the favorite, the game would be low scoring - usually finishing 1-0. These kinds of results gave the home team everything they needed - 0 away goals conceded and potentially a slender lead to take to the second leg, meaning if they scored an away goal, the home team would have to score three to progress.

However, with the away goals rule abolished, there is now less motivation to keep a clean sheet as long as you can outscore your opponents, as you aren't as heavily penalized for conceding an away goal. Therefore, we can expect a lot more high-scoring games than we did in past seasons and fewer games where teams sit back, play defensively, and hope they did enough in the first leg to progress.

This isn't just limited to the first leg. Now that away goals aren't as valuable, teams that manage to score away from home are no longer incentivized to sit back and defend their away goal advantage.

Without the looming threat of an away goal hanging over the heads of the home team, we can expect to see the tactics implemented by managers change over the coming seasons and hopefully higher scoring/more entertaining games!

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