It was billed as one of the biggest games of the UEFA Champions League in recent memory when Paris Saint-Germain were paired against real Madrid. However, despite the fanfare that greeted the round of 16 tie from fans of both teams and neutrals alike, the game itself didn’t really live up to the billing.
Barring a brief spell towards the end of the first half, PSG were largely dominant and deservedly won the game after a last-minute goal by Kylian Mbappe.
No one expects a one-sided game when two European heavyweights clash. However, Tuesday’s game wasn’t far from that as Los Blancos just did not turn up.
Los Blancos played for a draw
Many have criticized Carlo Ancelotti for the negative tactics he deployed against PSG. It was clear that the Italian manager set his side up for a draw. The Spanish side had an xG of 0.13.
The fact Los Blancos did not have a single shot on target in 90 minutes is proof of how dire they were. Real Madrid just sat back and invited PSG to attack. This can largely be attributed to the cancellation of the away goals rule. As it stands, away teams have no incentive to open up and play attacking football in knockout games.
If the away goals rule still existed and Madrid needed to score to enhance their chances of advancing to the next stage, this would have been a better game.
Scrapping the away goals rule encourages boring games
Jamie Carragher was one of the first to decry the scrapping of the away goals rule after watching Real Madrid play for a goalless draw in a Champions League game. The former Liverpool star described the decision as terrible and he has a point. Abolishing the away goals rule only means that such boring games will become the norm in the knockout stages.
Teams will go into away games with the intention of playing for a draw and hoping to do better in front of their home fans. Real Madrid will certainly not be the last toe such a line.
UEFA must now find a way to incentivize attacking play, lest the entertainment that fans have known for years in knockout stages will be sapped.