What does aggregate mean in football?

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What does aggregate mean in football? To someone that has not been watching or betting on football for years, the term aggregate football can be something that throws them off. After all, why is the scoreline in the corner of the TV screen followed by another scoreline in brackets?

In this guide, we will take a look at what is aggregate football!

What is aggregate in football?

aggregate football

The term aggregate in football refers to a combined score between two teams across a two-legged tie. The term aggregate is the combination of different parts or elements. The definition of the aggregate score is the total number of points, or goals, accumulated by one team over the course of a series of games.

As you can see this definition clearly explains the reason the word aggregate is used as it is in football. It is a good definition of what is happening.

But a definition alone doesn’t explain how “aggregate” works in the context of a football game.

How Aggregate Works in Football

Agg in football works by taking the scoreline from one game between two teams and adding it to the scoreline of another game between those same two teams. The combined scoreline from those two games is the aggregate scoreline or the score “on aggregate”.

In various tournaments around the world, teams will play each other twice to decide who the winner of the contest is and therefore which team should progress to the next round of the competition.

Some examples of tournaments where an aggregate format is used are:

  • FIFA World Cup qualifying rounds
  • UEFA Champions League
  • Copa Libertadores
  • The Copa del Rey in Spain
  • The Coppa Italia in Italy
  • and previously the MLS conference semifinals and finals

Each of these football tournaments relies on the use of aggregate goals to decide which team has won a game.

This also means that when the teams meet to play against each other for a second time, they are effectively beginning the game at the point they finished the previous game.

If one team lost the previous game, then they are starting at a disadvantage and have to score more goals than the opposition if they are to catch up, improve their aggregate scoreline and win the game.

Alternatively, if one team won the previous game, they start the second game with an advantage. And they only have to score the same number of goals as the opposition in the second game to be the winners of the game.

Examples of Aggregate in football

To help make this clear, let’s look at some examples of an aggregate scoreline.

Example 1

Team A plays Team B and the first game ends with Team A winning 3 -1

Team A then plays Team B in a second game which ends with Team B winning 2 -1

In this scenario Team A would be declared the overall winner as the aggregate scoreline (the scoreline of the two games added together) would be:

Team A 4 – 3 Team B.

Why Is Aggregate Used in Football?

Besides getting an understanding of what does aggregate mean in football, let’s get the answer of why is Aggregate used in football?

Using aggregate scorelines in football ensures that both teams have a fair chance of winning the match. In a Europa League quarter-final, if Sevilla plays Rangers, it would be unfair for Rangers to have to travel to face their opponents in Spain in a one-off match.

Utilizing an aggregate score means that both teams have the chance to play both at home and away. While the time for travel may not be a factor in a domestic cup competition, it will become far more important in a Champions League match that pits two sides from opposite ends of Europe against one another.

There is also a range of factors that come into play when at home, such as the fans, weather conditions, and the playing surface among others. It would be unfair to only give one team this advantage in such an important game, which means it makes sense to force both sides to play at home and away.

What Are Away Goals?

what is aggregate in football

At this point, you may feel you understand how and why this works. But unfortunately, there is one more factor that can make the use of aggregate in football a little more complicated. That is the away goals rule.

The away goals rule in football is a rule used to determine the winner of a game when the scorelines are tied after two games, or on aggregate. Under the away goals rule the team who has scored the most away goals over the two games will be the winner of the game.

Away goals in football are the goals a team scores away from their “home” ground. Whenever a team scores a goal at a stadium or field that is not their home field, they have scored an “away” goal.

In the context of a game decided on aggregate goals, this would mean that there is an advantage to scoring as many goals as possible during an “away” game. This could give a team an advantage and allow them to win the game if the scoreline ends in a tie.

People accept and use the away goals rule since it may be harder to score goals away from home than to score a goal at home. This is again due to the fact that playing a game at home has many psychological as well as physiological advantages over the opposition.

The use of the away goals rules to determine the winner of a match where the aggregate score is tied is considered a fair way to decide on the winner of the game.

Examples of the Away Goals Rule in Soccer

Again, it’s helpful to look at examples. Let’s look at two examples of the away goals rule on an aggregate score.

Example 1

Team A plays at home against Team B and the first game ends with Team A winning 4 -1

Team A then plays Team B in a second game in which Team B is playing at home. The game ends with Team B winning 3 – 0

In this scenario, although the score on aggregate is 4 -4 Team B would be declared the overall winner. Because they scored the only away goal of the two games and would win based on the away goals rule.


That’s all you need to understand about what does aggregate mean in football. The use of aggregate in football is to even the field between two teams and achieve a result that is considered fair for both teams. If you want to find the meaning of any other term or meaning used in football, check out Football Terms.

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