Overtime In Soccer: All The Details

Soccer is advertised as a 90-minute match between two teams. However, those who follow soccer know that it doesn’t exactly always work out that way. In fact, when the score is tied, and there must be a winner, the match can end up being significantly longer with overtime.

What is overtime, and how is it used in the modern game? We take a look at how overtime is implemented around the globe. Having a better understanding makes the sport that much more exciting when it goes into overtime.

What is overtime in soccer? Overtime in soccer consists of two additional 15-minute halves. The teams will switch sides between the two halves and have a short break in the action. The team with the most goals at the end of overtime wins. If both teams are still tied, it goes to a penalty kick shootout.

When Is Overtime Used?

Soccer matches routinely finish in ties, so some people might not even realize when overtimes are used in the sport. Basically, they are reserved for matches where there must be a winner decided.

Knockout stages of tournaments are just one example. Championships also must have a winner. Regular season or group stage matches are allowed to have ties, so they rarely implement overtime.

What Happens If It’s Tied After Overtime?

The two teams have a penalty kick shootout if the match is tied at the end of overtime. Each team picks five players to take penalty kicks against the opponent’s goalkeeper, and the team with the most penalty kicks wins. If they are tied after five, each team continues sending another person until there is a winning side.

While penalty kicks guarantee a winner, not everyone is thrilled with the format since it is different from the rest of the match.

Golden Goal In Overtime

There are some formats in soccer that play by golden goal rules in overtime. This actually was widely used as recently as a couple of decades ago, but most have moved away from it since then. No major tournament uses a golden goal rule, but it’s still used at smaller tournaments here and there.

How the golden goal rule works is that the first team to score wins the match. It can happen in the first minute of overtime, or at the very end.

It can lead to some pretty exciting finishes, but ultimately, a lot of people within soccer felt like it had a little bit too much luck involved. By forcing the teams to play out the full amount of time, it provided better results.

Overtime vs. Stoppage time

Some people get very confused with the terminology in soccer when it comes to overtime vs. stoppage time. While both are added parts to the match itself, stoppage time is always available at the end of each half.

It’s to help compensate for any stoppages that happened during that half of the match, and generally ranges from one minute, all the way up to five minutes. While many people refer to it as stoppage time, it’s also known as injury time.

With overtime, this is a completely separate amount of time. We’ve already covered its two 15-minute periods of play, and it can sometimes be referred to as extra time. They both take away from the clean-cut 90-minute action of a standard soccer match, but they are necessary to create as fair a competition as possible.

What Type of Strategy Is Used In Overtime In Soccer?

Teams go into overtime with different strategies depending on the situation. For example, if there is still an opportunity to end the match in a tie, some overmatched teams might just be playing for exactly that.

They will be a little hesitant to take any big risks, which can be a very boring way to watch overtime. Still, winning a single point can make a difference in the standings, but it makes sense to a certain degree.

Underdogs might also play for the tie to force penalty kicks. That is because they might feel like they have a better chance of winning in penalty kicks instead of overtime. This is usually a strategy used by teams that are the underdog because there is a lot more randomness that can occur with penalty kicks.

If a team does score early on in the overtime, their strategy for the rest of the time could be very deliberate and safe. They have the lead, and they trust their defense is strong enough to hold onto it.

If there was a comeback to force overtime, some teams like to ride that momentum as much as possible. This is especially true if they are playing with an extra man because someone on the other side was sent off with a red card. The more fit team might also push the pace a bit since both teams are pretty worn out after playing for over 90 minutes.

Ultimately, strategy is a major part of overtime, since so much can change in a short amount of time. This is why teams practice certain scenarios so that they know what to do when the opportunity arises. Teams never want to be caught without a strategic plan, going home in a tournament faster than they ever realized.

How Do People Feel About Overtime?

For a lot of sports fans, they thoroughly enjoy overtime play. Instead of the opportunity of a tie happening, this guarantees that a winner eventually happens.

If anything, a lot of people would like to see overtime continue until someone actually scores. After 30 minutes of action, using penalty kicks takes away from how the rest of the match was played, which can be frustrating.

The reason why overtime does not last longer and longer is that it can be so worn on the players. Once overtime is completed, that’s over 120 minutes of action for just about everyone on the pitch. At this point, kicking penalties at least ensures that there is a winner.

No overtime format is perfect, but it seems like most soccer players love this setup compared to previous versions with the golden goal rule.

The excitement overtime brings is always going to be high level, but don’t expect it to ever creep into regular season play. Part of soccer strategy is sometimes playing for a draw to get one point in the standings. Draws might not be the most exciting result, but they can determine where they finish in the standings.

Connor Smith

I'm Connor, the guy behind SoccerPrime. I'm a former NCAA Div 1 college player that retired at the age of 21 due to injuries - which led me into a new career as a soccer coach.

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