Champions League action resumes with knockout stages

Sports – The Aggie

Europe’s premier club competition is the best that soccer has to offer

After a two-month hiatus, the 2018/19 UEFA Champions League returns this week with the start of the knockout stages. The last 16 teams remaining will face off against each other over two legs, with a three-week break separating the home and away fixtures. The victor of each matchup will be decided by the final aggregate score, with away goals scored acting as the tiebreaker.

The Champions League is currently going through a period of transition, marked by some important rule changes.

For the first time in the competition’s history, a video assistant referee (VAR) will be utilized during matches, starting with the upcoming Round of 16. VARs can be used in situations that have a significant impact on the outcome of the game, such as plays involving goals scored, red cards, decisions on penalty kicks and identifying the correct player for a yellow or red card. The technology has already been implemented in the FIFA World Cup, Germany’s Bundesliga, Italy’s Serie A, Spain’s La Liga and other various domestic cup competitions. The English Premier League will begin using VARs next season.

UEFA is considering scrapping the away goals rule, which has come under much scrutiny over the years, but that decision won’t take effect until next season at the earliest. The rule was implemented in the mid-1960s, when it was much more strenuous for a team to travel to away matches, and scoring a goal on the road was a huge accomplishment. In today’s landscape, while teams travel by luxurious charter flights that typically only last a few hours at most, scoring an away goal just doesn’t mean as much. As a result, UEFA is considering getting rid of the rule to discourage teams from playing a more defensive style.

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