With the latest reports, the audience appreciated, ‘It’s a free shot, with no defenders nearby, against a goalkeeper who is supposed to stay on the goal-line until the kick is taken’.

England, have one of the worst senior penalty shoot-out records in world football. Brazil and Germany, with three victories each, have the best World Cup record overall. But while Brazil was eliminated by France at Yet before England defeated Colombia 4 – 3 on penalties to reach the quarter-finals of the 2018 World Cup, the Three Lions hadn’t won a shoot-out in a major tournament since 1996 – and never in a World Cup.

Mexico 86, the Germans have never lost and, of course, beat England at Italia 90. Terry Venables’ men beat Spain on penalties in the Euro 96 knockout stage, only to miss out on reaching the final by losing to Germany in a heartbreaking shoot-out at Wembley. It was the current England manager Gareth Southgate who missed his spot-kick that night. Now the curse is broken, we try to explain why the Three Lions paid the penalty so often in previous tournaments.

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As well as just practicing taking pens, players should also be aware of what the keeper they are facing is likely to do. In the Russia-Spain shoot-out, Russia’s players took advantage of David de Gea’s tendency to dive early. Two of the successful Russian penalties went down the middle. Had the Spaniard stood where he was he could have kicked them away.

The explanation has often been that, as it’s impossible to recreate the atmosphere of a live shoot-out, it’s a waste of time. This year, happily, Southgate has kicked all that into touch. In fact, the Football Association commissioned a study into the failed penalty shoot-outs of previous tournaments. Of course, the goalkeeper is vital to any shoot-out success, too. Under pressure, humans go with what’s safe, so knowing each opponent’s preferred penalty should be a goalkeeper’s shoot-out 1.01. Failing that, at least know their preferred foot. In the 2009 Carling Cup final, Manchester United’s ‘keeper Ben Foster went one step further, using his phone to revise on Tottenham’s penalty-takers before the shoot-out. United won 4-1.


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