April 7th 2016 Liverpool go away to Dortmund and draw, pretty good result in the opening leg of the Europa league tie. Gave me hope they’d advance, hell gave everyone hope because most thought we would get handled easily by a team consisting of Reus, Hummels, Gundogan, Aubameyang, etc.
Second leg April 14th at Anfield, place will be rocking, we have the advantage right? Well Dortmund comes out flying and goes up 2-0 on goals from Mkhitaryan and Aubameyang and you think all is lost right? I did but I was obviously wrong (which is normal). Halftime comes still down 0-2 then Origi finishes a peach of a pass by Can to cut the deficit 1-2. Adrenaline gets going again only for Marco Reus to snatch it right back to make it 1-3.
Then magic happens, Coutinho scores a Coutinho worldy and Sakho scores off a corner and game tied, or not really. Which gets me to theaway goals rule. Now it never came into play because of one Dejan Lovren’s great header to win 4-3 on aggregate but could you imagine fighting back against that powerhouse Dortmund team to then be bounced out of the Europa League because they scored more away goals?? Let that sink in for a bit. We could have had one of the best European nights at Anfield in awhile taken away from us because of the worst rule in sports. I know this rule has helped out Liverpool in the past (Liverpool-Arsenal ’08 champions league quarterfinals is one example) but it’s 2016 lets update the rulebook a bit.
Back when this was introduced in 1965 I understand why it was put in place. To prevent replays of games, cut down on grueling travel (especially with no direct flights), an attacking incentive to reward teams in the most hostile environments. The main reason was encouraging teams playing away to try and play football and not sit back and defend all match, develop a more attractive football. I don’t buy into rewarding away teams more for attacking, it’s complete non-sense. Playing away from home is no longer the impossible hurdle it used to be with most flights being short and manageable. Athletes are trained better for travel and have perfect accommodations to handle such rigours. In my opinion the away goals rule can completely change a team’s plans/tactics for a match, which is just absurd. Teams have enough to worry about. Tell me in what world should you be happy with a 0-0 draw at home because you know you can nick an away goal and advance. What kind of message does that send to fans who pay top dollar to go to matches and watch a bore fest. I can appreciate a great defensive match, don’t misunderstand, but to not attack because you’re afraid to concede is ridiculous.
Between 1955-1962 there were 3.71 goals per game in the European Cup from the round of 16 onwards. From 1962-1970, there were 2.94 goals scored. These numbers are from the great Jonathan Wilson’s away goals article, an article much better than mine surely. What this shows though is that the away goal rule clearly had an effect on attacking and being a more open game. The introduction of the rule completely coincided with a decrease in goals per game. There is more to the goal reduction but I suggest you read Jonathan’s piece so he can explain it much more clearly.
Counter-attacking 30-40 years ago consisted of one to two players looking to spring an attack. Nowadays counter-attacking consists of the whole team and creates beautiful, free-flowing football. Why take that away because a team is afraid to concede? Alex Ferguson and Arsene Wenger are huge backers of changing the rule and while we as Liverpool supporters don’t like them, they are two of the greatest managers ever. They may know a little about the game. It’s a bitter way for a match to end and unfair to supporters of both sides. UEFA needs to take a long hard look at this outdated silly rule and make the required change. How many matches will be ruined before it’s changed?