Friday, April 12, 2013

Draw, Draw, Win

Sometimes you get so used to something that you don't even acknolwedge that it no longer makes sense. Take the away goals counting as double rule in European Cup competitions.

The away goals rule first made an appearance in European football in the Cup Winners' Cup in 1965, primarily to eliminate the need for replays, which were costly and difficult to arrange. The cost of travel beyond the Iron Curtain and the standard of hotel accommodation throughout most of Europe meant that many clubs simply didn't fancy the possibility of playing more than game away in a tie. Of course sharing a room with a Bulgarian cockroach (other nationalities are available) after a three hour flight and four hour coach journey was preferable to tossing a coin to decide matters.

Before the 'away goals' rule came in just 16% of all European away games resulted in an away win, in the last five years the figure has varied between 30 and 35% and matches in European competitions. During the near fifty years since it was introduced sports science, travel, accommodation and the preparation of almost uniform standards of pitches have made the old 'its tough going away' rationale almost redundant.

On Wednesday night a Messi inspired Barcelona beat PSG on the away goals rule, but the trip to Paris wasn't a hardship was it, nor did eiether team actually adopt different tactics for the two legs, besides which Barcelona is closer to Paris than it is to La Coruna, so should Barcelona ask for an away goals counting double consideration the next time they play Deportivo away?  We've seen Tottenham go through in the Europa League despite a battering away, whilst their opponents Inter could feel aggrieved at winning so convincingly at home yet conceeding one goal.

Perhaps the time has come to change the system and if scores are level after the second leg, regardless of who has scored more away, we should have extra-time and penalties - as happened with Basel and Tottenham last night.

9 comments:

Span Ows said...

You're so right, not sure if it's just my imagination but this year seems to have highlighted more than usual the silliness of the away goals rule. Also imagining that Arsenal ave suffered more than their fair share.

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