Aggregate In Soccer: How Does It Work?

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When you’re talking about soccer, the term used to refer to the cumulative score of a two-legged fixture is aggregate. Knockout competitions such as the UEFA Champions League, Copa Libertadores, or domestic cup competitions are where you would usually experience this. 

To explain it in more simple terms, the aggregate is made up of the combined score of two teams after they’ve played against each other twice. The aggregate score is what determines who wins out of those two teams. 

Most soccer fans are aware of the term itself, but they aren’t entirely sure of what an aggregate score is or even how it’s calculated. In this article, we’ll go over aggregate in soccer while also looking at all the aspects and details of using it.  

What is Aggregate in Soccer?

Other common terms for this are the two-legged tie or two-legged fixture, aggregate is a cumulative scoring format that they use in certain matches to determine the winner.

A two-legged match risk made up of two separate matches being held between two teams on two separate occasions. 

These matches are respectively held at both of the team’s home grounds. Upon completion of these matches, they’ll add the scores from both; therefore, a cumulative score is determined, and the winner of the matches will be revealed. 

In rare cases, the teams will have a tie between their scores; in this instance, extra time or penalty kicks may be rewarded by the referee. 

How Aggregate Works in Soccer?

Aggregate is the act of combining the scores made up of two matches between two teams and then calculating the cumulative.

Once these steps are taken, the score is then called the aggregate. Let’s go into more detail on how an aggregate works in soccer:

Two-Legged Fixture

As the aggregate score will be based on two separate matches, these matches are referred to as the first-leg and the second-leg. Each match will be played in both teams’ home stadiums. This is done to ensure that neither team has a home advantage. 

Cumulative Scoring 

The main purpose of aggregate scoring is to be able to calculate the total score of the two matches held by two teams and determine the winner.

The totals of the goals scored by each team in both matches are added together. The team with the highest aggregate score will be the one to qualify for the next round. 

Away Goals Rule

In the rare instance that the aggregate score ends up as a tie, they will then use the tiebreaker or the away goals rule. This rule states that the team who scored more goals when playing in the opponent’s home stadium during the two legs will be declared the winner. 

Such rules are important when it comes to evaluating each team’s ability to perform when playing in the opponent’s territory. 

Extra Time & Penalties

If, after using the away goals rule, the aggregate score is still a tie, then it would be up to the referee to decide if they want to give some extra time.

The extra time given is usually an additional two fifteen-minute halves. If there’s still no winner after the extra time, then penalty kicks are awarded to both teams. 

Why Aggregate Is Used in Soccer?

Aggregate in soccer was put in place to ensure fairness in knockout tournaments for both teams. Since aggregate scoring requires each game to be played in both of the team’s respective home grounds, this eliminates the chances of home-ground advantage for either team. 

This ensures that the competition is made more equal. This format of playing adds a layer of tension to soccer competitions. Soccer fans seek drama, so this keeps them on their toes. 

The nature of cumulative scoring in the competition means that no team will be disqualified until the final whistle is blown at the end of the second leg.

This can sometimes lead to thrilling comebacks and possible ties, keeping soccer fans interested all the way throughout the game. 

Different strategies are required for each match. This aspect keeps both matches intriguing and complex. It’s up to the teams to decide when they should pursue a goal, defend a lead, and how to handle away matches. 

The teams also have intentions of scoring more in their away matches since it leads to a significant advantage during the away goals rule. In single-leg matches, there is a chance that the matches will be decided by a coin toss or a penalty shootout. 

Aggregate scoring is a way of reducing this unfair method of determining winners and gives each team an opportunity to display their performance. 

Disadvantages of Aggregate Scoring

Aggregate scoring is vastly used in soccer matches, but there are still certain disadvantages and criticisms linked to it. These include:

1. Defensive Play

When playing two-legged ties, sometimes the teams will use overly defensive strategies in order to avoid conceding away goals.

This method can lead to boring matches because teams focus more on not conceding instead of attacking while they’re playing. 

2. Less Favorable for Neutral Fans

Neutral fans are those who don’t favor either team over the other. For such people, aggregate scoring and two-legged matches aren’t appealing. 

Another suspense killer is when fans are aware that a certain team has a substantial advantage over the other, resulting in less excitement for the second leg. 

3. Complex Tiebreakers

Although the away goals rule is a highly unique concept used by soccer fans, it has the tendency to be confusing for followers.

The tiebreaker rules are capable of leading to situations where a single goal could have a disproportionate impact on the outcome of the tie.

4. Inequity in Away Goals

Critics of this scoring system will argue that away goals are not always a true representation of how a team has performed.

There are times when a team can just score one goal in the away match and then park their bus defensively. This is a tactic they use to make it through the matches based on that single goal, which can, in turn, allow them to win the game. 

5. Extra Time & Penalties

In such cases where the aggregate score is a tie between both teams, they are then required to either play in extra time or they’re granted penalty kicks.

While these rules can be physically taxing for players, they’re also not reasonable enough to determine the best team.

6. Anti-Climatic Second Legs

If, in the first leg, one team manages to completely dominate the other, it’s easy to predict the outcome of the second leg, causing fans to lose their interest in the game because it becomes anti-climactic. 

Examples of Aggregate Scores Used in Soccer

They’ve been using aggregate scores in soccer matches around the globe. Here are a few examples of the usage of this format:

Barcelona vs. Paris Saint-Germain (UEFA Champions League, 2017)

During this two-legged match, Paris Saint-Germain took the lead in the first leg with a score of 4, while Barcelona was unable to manage a single point.

However, during the second leg, the tables turned, and Barcelona took the lead with a score of 6 while Paris Saint-German only scored 1 goal. 

Barcelona’s aggregate score was 6, and Paris Saint-Germain was 5. Barcelona had managed to qualify for the second round after making a comeback in the second leg. 

Liverpool vs. AC Milan (UEFA Champions League Final, 2005)

In the first leg of this two-legged competition, the score was equal, with each team managing to score 3 goals. During the second match, Liverpool scored three goals while AC Milan only scored 2. 

The aggregate score for this match ended with Liverpool at 6 and AC Milan at 5. Liverpool was able to complete a historic win in the Champions League. 

Real Madrid vs. Bayern Munich (UEFA Champions League, 2018)

The score for the first leg of this match was Bayern Munich 1 with Real Madrid at 2. During the second leg, was when the suspense began as they had a tie of 2 – 2. 

However, because of the aggregate score, Real Madrid took the win with 4, while Bayern Munich was at 3. This was a narrow victory, but because of it Real Madrid managed to move on to the next round. 

Arsenal vs. Reading (English League Cup, 2012)

This match is known for its high-scoring and dramatic nature, as Arsenal came up from behind to win during extra time. During the first leg, the score was Arsenal 0 – Reading 1. 

However, during the second leg, Arsenal really proved themselves and were able to achieve a score of 7 during extra time, while Reading only scored 5 goals, resulting in the aggregate score being Arsenal 7 – Reading 6. 


Aggregate scoring is a very common way of competing in soccer matches. It’s a good technique for allowing both teams to have an equal opportunity by performing on their home grounds. However, this method can be confusing for soccer fans to understand. 

These examples and details given here are a great description of aggregate in soccer, so it can help you understand the term better. Maybe you’ll be predicting the scores of your favorite team for the next aggregate scoring match. 


What does the aggregate score mean?

The regular definition of aggregate means calculating a cumulative score. In soccer, the aggregate score is calculated by the total score of both matches after two teams compete with each other in two separate matches. The one with the higher aggregate score is declared the winner. 

Since there are two matches, they are divided into the first leg and the second leg. 

What is the away goals rule?

This special rule is used during aggregate scoring competitions when the aggregate score for both teams is a tie.

According to this rule, the team that scored more goals during the away matches of their opponent’s home ground is determined the winner. 

When is an aggregate score used?

The aggregate score is commonly used in situations where there are two-legged matches.

This will occur during association soccer competitions such as the UEFA Champions League. The aggregate score is used to determine which team has the skills to qualify for the next round of the championship.

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