Nothing compares to seeing a thrilling penalty shootout between players and goalkeepers, where one of them emerges as the winner or the loser. A successful penalty kick means being remembered for years, if not decades, at any World Cup.
The origins of the penalty
Law 14 of the International Football Association Board (IFAB) established the penalty kick as we know it today in 1891. A player is subject to a penalty if they intentionally trip, hold, or handle the ball within 12 yards of their own goal line.
What is it like to take a penalty at a World Cup?
Landon Donovan, the all-time best scorer for the USA, scored 57 goals in 157 appearances to lead the country in World Cup scoring. In the largest football competition, Landon described taking a penalty as a “nerve-wracking” experience.
“You are very aware that this is a big moment not only for you and your team but your country,” Donovan told Football Now.
Landon equalised from the spot in the USA’s game against Ghana in 2010 in their Round of 16 clash.
“The relief after you score a goal in a World Cup, especially on a penalty, is huge. In a World Cup, there’s just more at stake. When you take a club penalty, if you miss one, you might in two weeks get another one. In a World Cup, there’s no second penalty coming. You know that this is your one chance.”
Does added technology increase the number of penalties?
It can be rather intimidating to know that you are in charge of the aspirations of millions of people back home, and it’s challenging to simulate the pressure of a penalty in practise.
To help on-pitch officials discover fouls committed inside the box that might have gone unnoticed, VAR was implemented.
The on-pitch referee receives advice from the video assisted referee, who monitors the game on multiple screens and has access to slow-motion replays.
Keith Hackett, a former FIFA official, believes the record will be broken at the World Cup in Qatar.
“I can see more penalties being awarded because I think those VAR operators selected for the World Cup will be trained very efficiently by FIFA. There might have been a penalty kick in the past that’s not awarded because we’ve not seen it. The review process with VAR that comes in will ensure that those are detected, and those are penalised.”
It should come as no surprise that Pierluigi Colina, chairman of the FIFA Referees Committee, would oversee the match officials during the World Cup in Qatar. He is largely regarded as the greatest football official in history. After receiving six straight “Best Referee of the Year” awards from FIFA
Germany has won 17 out of the last 18 penalty shootouts, making them the indisputable King of the event. In an effort to defeat them, France, Mexico, England, and Argentina have tried and failed.
German sports journalist Jonas Gerdes was contacted by Football Now and questioned about the formula for Germany’s success.
“Most importantly, it’s the experience”, explained Gerdes. “They always think about the past, and let’s remember Jens Lehmann, very famous with the paper in his shoes. He checked where the players would put their penalty. And I think this experience makes you strong. We did it, and we will do it again. And, of course, they are practising penalties. And of course, there’s a little bit of luck like always.”
The pressure of penalties
The penalty shootout will have spectators in Qatar and those watching on television on the edge of their seats for spectacle and anxiety, even though penalties throughout the game are significant.
It can be quite intimidating to realise that you are in charge of millions of people’s hopes back at home. It might be difficult to simulate the buildup of pressure during a penalty during practise. However, you might need to score one or two penalties along the way if you want to win the World Cup.
“I think it’s just pressure,” believes former England international Stephen Warnock. “To replicate the pressure situation of doing it in training and then in front of fans is very difficult. When you think about the Euro’s final, there was that pressure on the team to ‘bring it home, as they keep on saying in England. I think that was a huge pressure on the players and something that you can’t really practise.”
Penalties will always be a test of nerves as much as skill. It may be a moment that supporters find difficult to witness. As a result, many people’s dreams will be dashed, while a select number will experience a moment of euphoria that is practically unmatched in sports. There is nothing quite like it for the neutral.
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