What Will Be The Affect Of Removing The Away Goals Rule In The Champions League

score draw football 4-4In 1965 UEFA introduced the away goals rule to European Club competitions in order to increase the attacking intent of away teams.  Prior to this is was common for away teams to sit deep in the first leg, take a 0-0 draw and then try to win the home leg.  Over time, though, home advantage came to matter less as grounds and pitches improved and became more consistent and universal technologies like VAR have levelled the playing field.

If anything, the away goals rule had started to hinder home teams in the first leg, who had become cautious of attacking too much in fear of the away team scoring an away goal.  Therefore, for the 2021-22 season UEFA decided to do away with away goals, something that had been widely called for and will be celebrated as an improvement.

The removal of away goals will have a significant effect on future results and therefore also future bets on things like Champions League, Europa League and Europa Conference League matches.  As a consequence we decided to look at what impact the away goals rule has actually had on results in the Champions League Era and how results may change going forward.

Champions League Ties Decided On Away Goals

YearTie1st Leg2nd LegRound
2021Porto 4–4 Juventus2–12–3 (a.e.t.)16
Bayern Munich 3–3 Paris Saint-Germain2–31–0QF
2020Lyon 2–2 Juventus1–01–216
2019Manchester United 3–3 Paris Saint-Germain0–23–116
Tottenham Hotspur 4–4  Manchester City1–03–4QF
Tottenham Hotspur 3–3 Ajax0–13–2SF
2018Shakhtar Donetsk 2–2 Roma2–10–116
Barcelona 4–4 Roma4–10–3QF
2017Manchester City 6–6 Monaco5–31–316
2016Atlético Madrid 2–2 Bayern Munich1–01–2SF
2015Paris Saint-Germain 3–3 Chelsea1–12–2 (a.e.t.)16
Arsenal 3–3 Monaco1–32–016
2014Paris Saint-Germain 3–3 Chelsea3–10–2QF
2013Arsenal 3–3 Bayern Munich1–32–016
Paris Saint-Germain 3–3 Barcelona2–21–1QF
2012Marseille 2–2 Internazionale1–01–216
2011Internazionale 3–3 Bayern Munich0–13–216
2010Bayern Munich 4–4 Fiorentina2–12–316
Bayern Munich 4–4 Manchester United2–12–3QF
2009Atlético Madrid 2–2 Porto2–20–016
Barcelona 1–1 Chelsea0–01–1SF
2007Barcelona 2–2 Liverpool1–21–016
Real Madrid 4–4 Bayern Munich3–21–216
Internazionale 2–2  Valencia2–20–016
2006Werder Bremen 4–4 Juventus3–21–216
Rangers 3–3 Villarreal2–21–116
Internazionale 2–2 Villarreal2–10–1QF
2005Milan 3–3 PSV Eindhoven2–01–3SF
2004Lokomotiv Moscow 2–2 Monaco2–10–116
Real Madrid 5–5 Monaco4–21–3QF
2003Internazionale 2–2 Valencia1–01–2QF
Milan 1–1 Internazionale0–01–1SF
2002Manchester United 3–3 Bayer Leverkusen2–21–1SF
2001Arsenal 2–2 Valencia2–10–1QF
1998Monaco 1–1 Manchester United0–01–1QF
1995Bayern Munich 2–2 IFK Göteborg0–02–2QF

Table shows team that played 1st leg at home as the home team, bolded teams went through on away goals.

The table above shows all 36 knockout stage matches in the Champions League that have been decided by away goals since 1995.  We have chosen to look from this date as it was in the 1994-95 season that quarter-finals were added to the Champions League.  From 1995 to 2003 there were 6 knockout two-legged ties (4 quarter finals and 2 semi-finals).  In 2003-2004 the round of 16 was added, adding an additional 8 knockout ties making 14 in total each year.

Although in the past there have been first and second preliminary rounds that have been decided by away goals, here, we have restricted the data to knockout stages in the Champions League proper.  This is simply because the stakes matter more at these stages than in preliminary rounds and so the away goal effect is more potent.

Overall in the 27 years from 1994-1995 to 2020-21 there were 306 knockout ties in total (612 matches, 306 home and 306 away).  Of these 36 ties were decided by away goals, 34 were in normal time and 2 in extra time.  In total 11.8% of games over that period were decided on away goals.  These are games that would have progressed to extra-time and/or penalties had the rule not been in place, which would could have had a dramatic effect on the outcomes of those tournaments.

Of the 306 knockout ties 144 were at the round of 16 stages (added in 2003-2004), 108 were quarter final ties and 54 were semi-finals.

Ties Decided By Away Goals

StageTotal TiesDecided on Away GoalsPercentage
Round Of 16144 (2004-2021)1812.5%
Quarter-Finals108 (1995-2021)1211.1%
Semi-Finals54 (1995 – 2001)611.1%

Playing for away goals is often seen as a tactical pursuit by teams and therefore you might think that it would have more of an effect the later teams got to, on the basis that they have more to gain in the semi-finals than in the last 16.

Looking at the number of two-legged ties decided on away goals by round reveals, however, that the effect is pretty much consistent at all knockout stages, with just over 1 in 10 matches decided on away goals.

Away Goals Statistics and Facts

football cartoon with question markEnglish teams were involved in 14 of the 36 ties decided on away goals, with one of those matches between two English clubs (2019: Tottenham beating Manchester City on away goals in the quarter finals).  Of those 14 matches the away goals rule resulted in a positive outcome for English teams just 5 times, if we exclude the game between Spurs and Man City that makes 4 / 13, which is 30.8%.

Italian teams played in 13 ties concluded using away goals, one tie between two teams from the same country (2003 AC Milan v Inter Milan).  Of those 13 match-ups Italian teams won five times on away goals.  Excluding the game between Inter and AC that is 4 / 12, which is 33.3%.

Spanish teams also took party in 13 ties where away goals decided the outcome, none of these were between two Spanish sides.  Of those 13 two-legged games 6 were won by teams from Spain, which is 46.2%.

French teams took part in 12 knockout games over the periods where the outcome was defined by away goals.  None of those ties were between two French teams and of those twelve ties 9 went the way of the French team, meaning they were successful in 9 / 12 games. which is 75%.

For German teams they were involved in 10 ties that came down to away goals, none between two German teams.  Of those 10 match-ups German teams went through on six occasions, therefore 60% of the time.

Bayern Munich are the team to be involved in the most games overall decided by away goals, 8 ties, of these they won five of them.  Monaco are the most successful away goals team, taking part in 5 games where away goals decided the outcome and winning all five of them.

Interestingly record champions Real Madrid lost both of their two ties decided on away goals and Manchester United lost 3 out of 4.

The team that played at home in the first leg won 17 of the 36 ties on away goals, the team that played away first won 19 of those games. Showing there was no particular advantage based on which team played at home in the first leg.

The most common aggregate score for matches where a team went through on away goals was 2-2 and 3-3, both occurring 12 times in the 36 ties, a third of all matches each. A 4-4 aggregate score happened 7 times, 1-1 three times, 5-5 and 6-6 both happened once.

Monaco (2004), Villareal (2006), Bayern Munich (2010), Roma (2018) and Tottenham (2019) have all won two ties on away goals in the same Champions League season

How Will No Away Goals Affect Future Knockout Ties?

extra timeOn the basis of the stats above we could assume that for Champions League knockout ties from 2021-22 onwards that around 12% more matches will now progress into extra-time and / or penalties than has been seen previously.  This may be good for UEFA and commercial TV revenues as more matches will continue longer, as well as potentially better for the bookies who will have more match time in which they can take bets.

From the punter perspective it means less ties will be decided in normal time and more second-leg ties could be decided in either extra-time or on penalties than previously.  The removal of the away goals rule will have no effect on match result bets, WDW in the second-leg, but it will have an effect on bets for teams to qualify and teams to win in extra-time or on penalties.  Effectively less teams will qualify in normal time from 2021-22 onwards.

Taking just the example of Monaco, who won all five of their games decided by away goals, on each of those occasions under new rules extra-time and potentially penalties would have been played.  This no doubt would have reduced the number of games Monaco won.

Notable Matches Decided On Away Goals

In 2003 AC Milan beat Inter Milan on away goals to reach the final, despite the fact they both play in the San Siro, the first leg (Inter Milan’s home leg) was drawn 0-0 while the second leg was drawn 1-1.  AC Milan were the home team in the second leg and so progressed on away goals.
The 2016 round of sixteen tie between Manchester City and Monaco was the highest scoring tie to be decided on away goals, the final aggregate score being 6-6 and Monaco going through thanks to three away goals to Manchester City’s one.
Roma overturned the biggest deficit to win on away goals when they lost 4-1 to Barcelona at the Nou Camp in the 2018 quarter-final but went on to win 3-0 at home in the return leg.