Home / EURO 2012 / Spot luck could be in for England

Spot luck could be in for England

Whenever England reach the knockout stages of a major tournament, most fans’ initial reaction is one of optimism. Pessimism, however, soon follows. Why? Simple – the prospect of penalties.

Penalties have been the bane of many a promising England title bid over the past few decades. In the past 22 years, spot-kicks have spelled Three Lions’ demise on no less than five occasions – more than half of the tournaments they’ve been involved in during that time.

Joe Hart fancies himself as a penalty-taker©Getty Images

Joe Hart fancies himself as a penalty-taker

At the 1990 FIFA World Cup in Italy, Stuart Pearce and Chris Waddle were the fall guys as England were ousted by Germany in the semi-finals. It was the same story six years later at EURO ’96 on home turf, where after winning a shoot-out for the first time against Spain in the quarters, Gareth Southgate’s saved effort meant it was Jürgen Klinsmann and Co who progressed to the final.

England were again dumped out on penalties by Argentina in the last 16 of the 1998 FIFA World Cup in France, with David Batty and Paul Ince each failing to convert, before successive spot kick losses to Portugal at UEFA EURO 2004 and the 2006 FIFA World Cup meant a trophyless end to Sven-Göran Eriksson’s tenure.

With Roy Hodgson’s side set to face Italy in the last eight of UEFA EURO 2012, many are predicting more penalty drama. Italy, though different from their predecessors in many ways, are the fathers of Catenaccio, while the current England side are renowned for their defensive asceticism. It’s the ideal recipe for a draw.

Normally this would be cause for panic, but this time, astonishingly, the media are actually tipping England to win should it come down to spot kicks.

Much of this new-found confidence has been born of goalkeeper Joe Hart. England’s first truly world-class shot-stopper in several generations seems to actively enjoy the ’12-yard lottery’. “It’s the situation where you get your chance to do your thing for the team,” explained the 25-year-old, who also fancies taking one himself, if permitted. “I’ll put my name forward 100%.”

Hart laughed off the question of how many he’d been saving in training for fear of incriminating any of his team-mates: “I’ve not saved one because they’re all so brilliant.”

Joking aside, England do have some dependable takers. Hart has converted emphatically for England Under-21s and Manchester City FC in the past, while Ashley Cole was successful in the ill-fated shoot-out against Portugal in 2004, not to mention for Chelsea FC this season’s UEFA Champions League final against FC Bayern München. Wayne Rooney has also put away nine of his last 11 attempts for Manchester United FC.

Confidence is of course a major factor, but in reality no amount of training can prepare the players for the pressure situation of a shoot-out in a high-profile UEFA European Championship match. No matter how big the name or how great the talent, no player is impervious to the pressure of penalties. Remember Marco van Basten in 1992?

Source Article from http://www.uefa.com/uefaeuro/news/blogs/blog=blog_england_team/postid=1803947.html?rss=1803947+Spot+luck+could+be+in+for+England

Your comments:

Powered by Facebook Comments

Comments are closed.

Scroll To Top