Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Away Goal Rule + 2nd Leg + ET = Unfair?

I've been thinking about the tie-breaker rule since last week's blockbuster UCL & Europa League knockout matches. It seems to me that the away goal rule becomes unfair in the second leg of a two-legged knockout round if the tie goes into extra-time. The reasoning: the team away in the second match gets an extra 30 minutes to score an away goal. At the point of this opportunity, if the away team should score a goal, the ramifications would be huge for the home team. They will most likely bow out of any tournament. It is controversial to allow such a distinct disadvantage to any team in time allotted after two matches have been played.

The counter argument: the home team in the second leg has 30 extra minutes of play in front of their home crowd, should the tie go into extra-time. I don't agree with this argument. I feel at the knockout level of a competition, the teams involved are most likely professional enough not be fazed by a home crowd after 90 exhausting minutes of play. Players are making sure fatigue does not force a mistake and focusing on grabbing a crucial goal. The crowd, I'm sure, was the last thing on Bayern Munich's mind last week while forging on into extra-time with Real Madrid.

To me, it's simple: on paper and in reality, a team away in the second game has a distinct advantage going into extra-time. The home team in the second game did not have another 30 minutes to score a crucial away goal in the first game - just 90. Given the gravity of this rule and seriousness of a second leg tie going into extra-time, I think there should be a better way to break a tie in critical matches.

Perhaps extra-time should not be judged by the away goal rule in the second leg? What do you think?

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