Tuesday, May 24

Euro 2021: The curse of the specialist in penalty shootouts | Soccer Eurocup 2021

Baggio shoots high off Taffarel in the 1994 World Cup final between Brazil and Italy.
Baggio shoots high off Taffarel in the 1994 World Cup final between Brazil and Italy.Neal Simpson – EMPICS / PA Images via Getty Images

Against tastes there are no disputes. There are coaches who prefer that the great specialist shoot the first penalty of the shoot to try to always go ahead, and others choose to shoot the last, defending the theory that the final turn requires special poise. This second alternative has the danger that he could be left without an option, as happened to Cristiano Ronaldo in the semifinals of Euro 2012 against Spain. His teammates Moutinho and Alves failed, and there were no more chances. The next set that Portugal had, in the quarterfinals of the 2016 Eurocup, against Poland, Cristiano threw the first and scored.

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On Monday, against Switzerland, Deschamps, without Benzema or Griezmann for having been substituted, opted for Mbappé as the last pitcher. He had scored all nine pitches of the season. A guarantee, but Sommer guessed the intention. The Frenchman became part of the long list of accomplished specialists who at one point missed a pitch in a critical situation that cost his team elimination.

On the matter of the election, if the first or the last, Luis Aragonés and Vicente del Bosque, who had to overcome a penalty shoot-out to win their respective Euro Cups, preferred that their safest man shoot first. In 2008, in the quarterfinals against Italy, the coach ordered Villa to start the series (goal) and left Cesc the last due to his apparent calm, in the words of Aragonés. “Fabregas is unfazed by anything, he is very responsible and does not get nervous. Since he lives in London, English phlegm has stuck to him ”. What the coach may not have known is that the player had not launched a maximum penalty for six years, from Barcelona B.

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In 2012, Del Bosque, in the semifinals against Portugal, sent Xabi Alonso to throw the first pitch. Rui Patricio stopped him. The last one was launched by Cesc, at the request of the player, who remembered the launch four years earlier and wanted to repeat the order. For the conviction that he was going to mark him and also for a little bit of cabal. The technician, who had planned to launch the second, did not prevent.

The archives of the European Cups and the World Cups are littered with penalties not transformed by the supposedly best shooters. In today’s competition, the list is long: Uli Hoeness (1976), Van Basten (1992), Fernando Hierro (1996), Rui Costa, Beckham and Ibrahimovic (2004), Modric, Rakitic, De Rossi, Di Natale (2008), Gerrard and Rooney (2012), Muller, Özil and Schweinsteiger (2016) …

The payroll reaches more cache in the World Cups. In Mexico 86, in a Brazil-France, Socrates and Platini failed in the round that finally fell on the side of the Europeans. In regulation time, Zico had also erred. In Italia 90, the victim was Maradona, who in the quarterfinals against Yugoslavia threw into the hands of Ivkovic. Luckily for him, Goicoechea’s saves allowed the albiceleste to pass.

In the 94 World Cup final, the errors of Baresi, Massaro and Roberto Baggio, this one in the last shot, cost Italy the title against Brazil. The match had ended in a goalless draw. In 2006, in the England-Portugal quarterfinals, Lampard, Gerrard and Carragher failed, and their selection fell by the wayside. Messi is not exempt either. His mistake was in the 2016 Copa América final against Chile, which ended up being the champion.

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