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Liverpool are facing the prospect of suffering in the Champions League from a rule which no longer makes sense in the competition’s current format.
The Reds travel to Budapest this evening to face RB Leipzig in the first leg of their Round of 16 clash.
Travel restrictions between the UK and Germany prevented the tie from taking place at the Red Bull Arena, and is likely to do so for the return leg which is yet to be moved from Anfield.
Current restrictions have also led to rearrangements for the majority of the other British clubs still in Europe.
Atletico Madrid will take on Chelsea in Bucharest, before Manchester City follow in Liverpool’s footsteps by challenging Borussia Moenchengladbach at the Puskas Arena.
Arsenal and Tottenham face Benfica and Wolfsburg in Rome and Budapest, respectively, in the Europa League Round of 32.
Despite the unprecedented pandemic-driven changes, the away goal rule still stands, even though matches are taking place at neutral venues.
Even when the rules did make sense, many had campaigned for away goals to be struck off – none more so than ex-Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger.
All the way back in 2008, the Frenchman argued: "I believe the tactical weight of the away goal has become too important.
"Teams get a 0-0 draw at home and they're happy. Instead of having a positive effect it has been pushed too far tactically in the modern game. It has the opposite effect than it was supposed to have. It favours defending well when you play at home."
It was no surprise then in 2015 when Arsenal were knocked out of the Champions League by Monaco by – you guessed it – away goals.
"It should count, maybe, after extra time," Wenger said after beating the French side 2-0 away but still crashing out.
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"This rule was created in the 1960s to encourage teams to attack away from home, but football has changed since the 1960s and the weight of the away goal is too big today."
UEFA deputy secretary-general Giorgio Marchetti promised a review of the rule three years ago.
"The coaches think that scoring goals away is not as difficult as it was in the past," he said after a gathering of Europe's top coaches. "They think the rule should be reviewed and that's what we will do."
No response just yet. Could this finally be the time?
- Arsene Wenger
- Champions League
- Europa League
- Liverpool FC
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