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Can Soccer Games End In a Tie?

As one of the most popular sports in the world, many people are drawn into soccer matches going on throughout the year. Every player and fan goes into a match thinking about winning, but that is not the only positive outcome that can occur.

Can soccer games in a tie? During regular season and group stage matches, soccer matches can end with a tie. If there is no winner or loser, both teams are awarded one point for the effort. However, if it is a knockout stage, a winner will need to be determined, as matches can’t end in a tie. There will be extra time, as well as a penalty shootout if necessary.

Regular Season & Group Stage Matches

Soccer is a grueling sport that is 90 minutes, plus extra time, of running up and down the field. With goals scored pretty scarcely, a tied match can take a long time to determine the winner. Instead of handling winners and losers, soccer matches can tie if there does not need to be a winner and loser.

In a regular season and group stage matches, soccer games can end in a tie. This is a little difficult to understand for people coming from other sports, but it is a way to add another layer of strategy to the game. Teams can start to change how they approach the game when it gets close to the end.

Knockout Stage & Tournament Matches

Soccer might not always play the match out and determine the winner, but there are certain scenarios where a winner must be determined so the one team can move on. When that is the case, there are extra rules involved to get a winner eventually.

After regulation and any extra time added to both halves, if the score is tied, there are two additional periods that are 15 minutes each. Think of this as a mini-match in a lot of ways, as the two teams trade sides and fight as long as possible.

There used to be a rule that there was what is known as a golden goal, where the first team to score would automatically win the game. That has gone away in just about every level of play, with the full 30 minutes played out every time.

If the match remains tied after 2×15 minutes, there is a penalty shootout to determine a winner. This has been pretty controversial since the start, as penalty shootouts can be so random as far as who comes out victorious. However, it is exciting for fans to watch, and it puts an end to a match that has already been going on for a long time.

Five players are selected from each side to take shots from the penalty kick line. The team with the most goals wins. If a team is automatically eliminated before all five shots are fired, that final goal or stop becomes the end of the match. All players, coaches, and fans know this, as there is usually an instant celebration.

If there is still a tie after five penalty kicks, each team gets an additional kick in a sudden death type of setup. To put it simply, once one team misses in a round and the other team scores, the match is over.

How Strategy Plays Into Ties & Shootouts

Soccer teams have been known to change up their strategy during a match depending on the score. This is mostly done to use the score to an advantage, as teams have different scenarios that might work for them.

One example comes down to matches that end in a tie. If a team is an underdog, they are more likely to play conservatively near the end of the match in an attempt to leave with a tie. Getting one point is better than zero, and opponents could counter any crazy attempts to score with an attack that ends up in a loss.

Other teams will play for the tie because they only need a single point in the standings. Instead of playing risky and going for three points, they will settle for one and go from there. This might not make for the most exciting soccer that many fans might want to see, but it is in the team’s best interest.

During knockout stages, certain teams will also play for the chance to take penalty kicks. It’s not uncommon that players will fake injuries just to delay play during this stage of the game. Once again, underdogs commonly use this strategy because they do not like their chances of outscoring the better team on the field.

When it comes to penalty kicks, it is a lot more random as far as how things go, and a team with a solid goalie and great penalty kickers might like their chances there.

Is a Winner Needed For Every Single Soccer Match?

There has long been a debate as to whether or not ties make sense in soccer. Some people believe that every single match should have a winner and a loser, while others look at the bigger picture. If the bigger picture is about which team wins a season-long league, one individual match does not necessarily need a winner or a loser. If both sides were even during that match, they leave with the same amount of points.

Forcing soccer teams to play it out until there is a winner can also put strain on players. With the current rules, there are only three substitutions allowed per match, and that means the majority of players will be running around for longer and longer amounts of time. Considering teams can play two or three matches during the week, players can start to break down if they are constantly playing an extra 30 minutes.

Most fans would love to see their team win and take all three points, but soccer has embraced the opportunity to tie since the beginning. It is not the only major team sport to offer a tie solution, as it happens in American football as well, but it is a lot less common because of a variety of scores in the sport.