EDITORIAL: AWAY-GOAL RULE TO BE SCRAPPED

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AWAY-GOAL RULE TO BE SCRAPPED?

It is currently being reported that Europe’s top coaches are clamouring for the away-goal rule to be scrapped because it is not as difficult to score away from home as it used to be. This is currently being discussed with UEFA. So the question therein is, should the away-goal rule be scrapped?

The rule was first introduced in the former European Cup Winners’ Cup competition in 1965 as an alternative to tossing a coin or staging a replay on a neutral ground.

At the time, playing away in Europe was a huge challenge which involved difficult travel and intimidating, unfamiliar conditions abroad, a far cry from today where it is considered routine. (The Sun).

The advantages of changing the away goal rule are as follows (but not limited to);

Let us say that a team gets knocked out of a competition because they played two draws, a 1-1 at home and a 0-0 draw away – see Chelsea versus Barcelona in the Champions League 2009. Now, on a purely results basis, it is two games played, both draws and it is unfair for a team to get knocked out purely on the premise that they did not score away from home when they were not necessarily required to do so because they were not losing.

Also, as explained earlier, most of the top teams (and Managers) have a pattern of play whether they are at their home ground or away from home. -see Liverpool (Klopp), Manchester City (Guardiola), Arsenal (Wenger previously), Barcelona (Valverde), Bayern Munich (Heynckes previously), Paris St Germain (Emery and Tuchel), Juventus (Allegri) There are obviously some exceptions to the rule. Managers like Benitez, Mourinho and co. tend to be more pragmatic in their approach especially in big games and more specifically in European knock-out competitions. The point ultimately is most top teams always attack regardless of the location of ground that they play on.

 

On the other side of the spectrum, scrapping the away goal rule takes away a lot of incentive from the teams that play away from home, particularly after not getting the desired result in the first leg. Statistically speaking, most teams (top teams as well) have better records at home than away from home which still shows that playing at home is definitely still an advantage. Barcelona is one team in question. Since Barcelona last won Europe’s elite competition, their away form in knock-out games has been absolutely abysmal. One specific thing would probably be having the ‘twelfth man’ on your side. Having the home crowd on your side is a huge mental advantage to home teams.

Also, the reasons initially raised seems to just be analyzing the performance of big teams and the away-goal rule. How about the small teams?

If a small team (say Qarabag) had to play a big team (say Manchester United) to win a game to qualify, can we categorically say that playing at home would not significantly boost their chances of doing just that?

Ultimately, the away goal rule gives the home team an advantage, creates incentives for the away team to do well knowing that it could be a huge advantage for them as well and it also creates a lot of mystery and excitement for the neutrals and fans watching the football game.

Posted by: Abiodun Motunrayo

Twitter: @amesmaniac

Email: [email protected]