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Two Legs Is One Too Many?, February 27th, 2009 3:45PM



Frustrated with how tournaments from the Champions League to the UEFA Cup force teams to play what he disparagingly deems "two-legged football,"'s Gabriele Marcotti puts the home-and-away series method under the microscope following first leg results from both competitions.

"The basic principle that you can lose and be happy (especially when you lose 3-2, the 'dream defeat) seems alien not just to soccer, but to sports in general," writes Marcotti.  Examining almost every scenario that surfaces in the two-leg system, Marcotti reasons that very few of these situations result in the kind of soccer that lacks "the urgency of straight one-and-done knockouts like in the World Cup" or "the aggressive 'let's get something out of this game' ethos you might find in league football."

Backing up one of his many valid arguments with UEFA data dating back to 2003-04, Marcotti reports that "in 83 percent of cases, the side that played the first leg away and scored first went through to the next round," lamenting how a home field first advantage rarely equals increased chance at success, contrary to the value it might hold in regular European league play and in almost if not all American sports.

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