What is Aggregate in Soccer?: Laws of the Game

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Written by Daniel Pena, Bachelors in Kinesiology and footballer: Learn More

What is an aggregate score in soccer? The beautiful game is full of terms and rules that may be confusing for a new fan or soccer player and out of all those terms one of the most common ones you will hear a lot through television is “aggregate score.”

In soccer, an aggregate score refers to the combined score of two teams facing each other over the course of two separate games, home and away. In this blog, I will explain everything you need to know about one of the most basic but important soccer rules, aggregate score.

Aggregate in Soccer

What is Aggregate in Soccer?

In soccer, ‘aggregate’ is a term you’ll often hear during major cup competitions, such as the Champion’s League. The combined tally of goals scored across two fixtures, or two legs, is what’s referred to as the ‘aggregate’ scoreline, allowing us to get a better understanding of performance over both games rather than just one.

This format also allows teams to play as both the home and away teams to make the overall matchup more fair. For example, if Team A and Team B face off twice, with one match ending 3-2 favoring Team A and another concluding at 1-0 for Team B, we have an equal aggregate score: three goals per team.

Another example is if Team A and Team C face off twice, with one match ending 2-0 favoring Team A while the other match ends 1-0 favoring Team A. This scoreline would lead to an aggregate score of 3-0 for Team A.

There used to be an “away goals rule” which counted goals scored away from home as more important than home goals scored, and were used as a way to deal with tie breakers, but the rule was removed in the 2021-2022 season. Since the away goals rule has been removed, there have been a lot more instances of matches going to extra time and penalty shootouts, since away goals do not have as much significance as they used to.

Having a clear understanding of this system is essential not only for coaches and players but also for fans since it is a system that is used around the world of soccer a lot.

Competitions that Use Aggregate Scoring

Aggregate scoring is usually used during knockout competitions that need a clear winner, in which the matches cannot end in a draw, and the team with the best aggregate score is the overall winner. Here are some of the major competitions that use an aggregate scoring system.

  • FIFA World Cup Qualifying rounds
  • UEFA Champions League
  • UEFA Europa League
  • CONMEBOL Copa Libertadores
  • England’s FA Cup
  • Spain’s Copa Del Rey
  • Italy’s Coppa Italia
  • MLS Conference semifinals and finals

Why is Aggregate Scoring Used in Soccer?

One of the main reasons soccer likes to use an aggregate scoring system is to keep the games as fair as possible and give both teams an equal chance of winning. By playing two games, instead of just one, both teams play on their home ground and the opposing team’s home ground, making the overall matchup more fair.

In soccer there is a huge belief that a home game gives the home team a huge advantage because they get to play in front of their fans and in their backyard. Although playing at your home stadium may give you a slight advantage, it does not mean it’s an automatic win and sometimes home games get even more complicated than away games.

The Away Goal Rule

As mentioned before, the away goal rule used to be a very important part of two legged matches, however the rule was recently removed during the 2021-2022 season. The away goal rule was used as a tie-breaker if both teams were tied over the course of the two games.

The rule stated that during a tie, the team with the most away goals would win the match and there would be no need to go into extra time or penalty shootout, if one team had more away goals than the other at the end of regulation time.

This rule was so important because it gave the away team an edge over the opposing team if they were able to score on their home ground, since the home team has the powerful “home field advantage.”

Famous Matches Determined by Aggregate Scores

Aggregate scores have played a pivotal role in determining the outcomes of some memorable soccer games involving top clubs such as:

  • The 1999 UEFA Champions League semi-final between Manchester United and Juventus, where Manchester United’s comeback led to an aggregate scoreline of 4-3.
  • The Copa Libertadores final in 2018 was another thrilling encounter determined by aggregate scoring. River Plate emerged victorious over Boca Juniors with a combined scoreline of 5-3 after two legs with spectacular goals scored.
  • Another recent amazing aggregate scoreline was between Tottenham and Ajax during the semi finals of the Champions League 2018-2019 in which Tottenham made an incredible comeback during the second leg to win the overall match
  • Spanish side Barcelona’s incredible comeback against Paris Saint Germain at the Camp Nou is another great example of one of the most exciting aggregate scores in soccer history
  • The most recent aggregate score on this list is a match up between Real Madrid and Man City during the 2023-2024 Champion’s league season quarter final, which saw Real Madrid winning the game by a penalty shootout.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is an aggregate soccer scoreline?

An aggregate score in soccer refers to a scoring system that is based on two matches between two teams in which both teams get the opportunity to be the home and away team. Whichever team has the highest total score after the end of the second match is the winning team.

What happens if there is a tie during the second game of a two legged match?

If there is a tie after the first match, also known as the first leg, both teams will have to finish the second game to determine the winner. If there is a two legged tie after the second game, the game will go into extra time and then a penalty shootout to determine the winning team.

If there is still a tie after the five kicks of a penalty shootout, the shootout goes into sudden death and the first team to miss the goal loses.

Which team wins the aggregate score of a soccer game?

The team to score more goals than the other team over the course of two games is the winner of the aggregate score.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the aggregate score system is a very important scoring system used in major soccer competitions throughout the world. In this system, the team to score the most goals over the course of two legs wins the match.

In this blog, I covered everything you need to know about aggregate scoring in soccer.

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