Time to Scrap Two Legged European Ties?

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After Coronavirus forced the Champions League into a crashing halt, the competition, months later, was rearranged into a World Cup like tournament in Lisbon. Instead of home and away fixtures, an idea that would involve the chaotic reality of travel right now, UEFA decided to put their heads together to come up with what has become a popular concept. 

All remaining eight teams travelled to Lisbon where they would face off in one-legged ties, instead of the usual two legs. No more away goals; no more room for error; just 90 minutes, or extra time and penalties if needed, of make or break football. The stage was set for potential upsets, and, now with four teams remaining, it’s fair to say we’ve had exactly that. 

One-Legged Ties the Way Forward?

Goodbye to the Heartbreak of Away Goals?

With the usual format of two legs, comes the drama of away goals. A team can be dominating in every aspect of play, but one goal from the away side can flip the game on its head. That one devastating moment can feel like two goals conceded, and sets up almost inevitable heartbreak. 

Yet, it has to be said, the heartbreak from conceding an away goal can soon turn to pure delirium come your team’s chance to play the role of the away side. All of a sudden, from the devastation of conceding two away goals to go into the second leg 2-0 down, your team can score three away goals to result in the opposition needing a further two to go through.

A Reminder of the Drama of Two Legged Ties

It’s all very confusing at times, yes, but they ultimately add to the always increasing drama of European football. And by scrapping second legs, you take away the action of away goals; the feeling of arriving at your destination as a fan ahead of your team’s latest step in their European tour; the feeling of guiding your team to seemingly impossible results under the floodlights in the home tie. 

The Champions League tournament in Lisbon is good, but it is no match for the unbeatable drama of a classic two-legged tie. Just last season, the two-legged format set up the incredible Lucas Moura hattrick to send Tottenham through and Liverpool’s corner taken quickly to overturn a 3-0 aggregate deficit against Barcelona. 

Lyon upsetting Juventus before shocking Manchester City will be remembered for some time, but the two comeback games last season will forever be cemented into the history of the Champions League.

No Need to Fix Something That Isn’t Broken

The verdict from this is: don’t fix something that isn’t broken. The Champions League is still the most exhilarating competition in world football to pay witness to. 

So, don’t make changes; don’t take away the opportunity for fans to travel alongside their team on the European tour before welcoming them back home for the second leg. And, although they can get confusing, don’t take away the drama of away goals. When possible, the usual format should hopefully make its return.

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