When the 2021/22 Champions League knockout stage started in February, there was a major rule change – one that had determined so many draws in previous editions of the tournament. In June last year, UEFA made the decision to abolish the away goals rule in all european double leg ties. Introduced in 1965, away goals rule indicated that all the goals scored by the visiting team both in the first leg and in the first leg would count as double if the aggregate score ended up level.
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Famous draws decided by away goals
Many famous victories were celebrated due to the away goals rule: Barcelona advanced to the 2008/9 final despite their semi-final against Chelsea ending in a 1–1 draw on aggregate. Andrés Iniesta’s equalizer in added time at Stamford Bridge counted as two goals under the above rule.
In this year’s quarter-finals, Real Madrid took a 1-3 lead in the second leg against Chelsea at the Bernabéu. Tüchel’s team retaliated and finished 3-1 in Madrid in the 90th minute, 4-4 on aggregate and went into extra time. Under the old rule, the visitors would have needed just one goal to get out of Madrid requiring two goals. As it turned out, Karim Benzema scored the winning goal six minutes into extra time Y chelsea they were unable to respond.
Tactical decisions to change
The reasons why it was time to ditch the away goals rule were made clear in the most recent editions of the tournament. Teams playing the first leg at home would simply focus on avoiding conceding a goal, even if it meant putting 10 men behind the ball and defending for 90 minutes. It was not made for entertaining football. The teams that parked the bus in the first leg put the visiting team at a disadvantage later, when the tie would be decided on their ground.
But even without the away goals rule, the teams playing the second leg at home will have an advantage if the tie ends level after 180 minutes, as they will have the comfort of playing. extra time and, if necessary, a penalty shootout in front of their own fans.
UEFA explained why the away goals rule had to go and what will replace it: “With the decision to remove this rule, ties in which the two teams score the same number of goals in the two games will not be decided by the number of goals scored. away, but two periods of 15 minutes of extra time are played at the end of the second leg and in case the teams score the same number of goals or no goals during this extra time, the kicks from the penalty mark will determine the qualifying team. to the next phase of the competition.
Extra time, then penalties
So when we get to the semi-final stage, all two-legged ties that finish the level after the home and away matches have been played will go to extra time – 15 minutes every other. At the end of that, if the score is still level, the game will be resolved from the penalty spot – a shootout involving five players from each side who will go to sudden death if the score remains level after both teams have taken all five of their shots from the penalty spot.
UEFA gave examples of recent statistics to illustrate its decision to make the historical change. “Statistics since the mid-1970s show a clear trend of continued reduction in the gap between the number of home away wins (from 61%-19% to 47%-30%) and the average number of goals per game. marked at home. -outside (from 2.02-0.95 to 1.58-1.15) in men’s competitions”.