Champions League round of 16: away goals rule and what happens if there’s a tie?
Real Madrid vs Liverpool, Napoli vs Frankfurt. With two places remaining, progress targeted towards European football’s most coveted prize.
Last November, the Champions League round of 16 draw took place in Nyon, Switzerland and served up some mouth-watering games for us. We had some international action in Qatar to keep our mind off the prospect, but time moves quickly and we’ve already watched some stunning performances in the first legs, and half the second legs as Europe’s elite battle it out for the biggest prize in the club game. Chelsea, Milan, Benfica, Bayern Munich, Manchester City and Inter are through to the quarters, with just two places remaining...
Do Champions League away goals count as double?
A year ago, as the 2021/22 Champions League knockout stage got underway, an important change to the rules had been introduced, one which affected something that had determined so many games in previous editions of the tournament. The decision itself was made in the summer of 2021, when UEFA abolished what was known as ‘the away goals rule’ in all two-legged European ties.
Introduced in 1965, the away goals rule stated that all goals scored by the visiting team in both home and away legs would count as double if the aggregate score ended level.
Game tied? Extra-time, then penalties
Obviously the first leg of these knockout clashes is not impacted by this rule -- the game ends after normal time -- but if the aggregate score is level at the end of regulation time of the second leg, the game will go to extra-time - a total of 30 minutes, teams changing ends after each 15-minute period.
After that, if the score is still tied, the game will be decided from the penalty spot - a shootout involving five players from each side which will go to sudden death if the score remains level after both teams have taken all of their five spot-kicks.
UEFA gave examples of recent statistics to illustrate their decision to make the historic change. “Statistics since the mid-1970s show a clear trend of continuous reduction in the gap between the number of home-away wins (from 61%-19% to 47%-30%) and the average number of goals per match scored at home-away (from 2.02-0.95 to 1.58-1.15) in men’s competitions”.
Why did UEFA abolish the away goals rule?
The reasons why it was time to get rid of the away goals rule were became clear in the most recent editions of the tournament. Teams playing the first leg at home would often simply focus on avoiding conceding any goals at all - even if that meant putting 10 men behind the ball and defending for 90 minutes. It didn’t make for entertaining football. Teams parking the bus in the first leg put the visiting team at a disadvantage later, when the tie was to be decided at their ground.
But even without the away goals rule, teams who play the second leg at home will have an advantage if the tie ends level after 180 minutes as they will have the comfort of playing extra-time and, if need be, a penalty shootout in front of their own fans. It’s all about finding the right balance for the rules makers.
When does the Champions League round of 16 start?
The first legs are played across the days of 14/15/21/22 February, with the second legs on 7/8/14/15 March. Those teams that won their respective groups are at home in the second leg.
Champions League round of 16 first leg scores
Tuesday, 14 February
Wednesday, 15 February
Tuesday, 21 February
Wednesday, 22 February
Non-Europeans with the most Champions League titles
Champions League round of 16 second leg dates
Tuesday, 7 March
Wednesday, 8 March
Tuesday, 14 March
Wednesday, 15 March
When is the Champions League quarter-final draw?
The draw for the quarter-finals, semi-finals and final (i.e. home/away team) is on Friday 17 March.