We have seen Milevskiy’s successful version of the “Panenka“, but there are some risks involved as this next video proves. It might also explain why Marcelo Lippi decided to leave Real Madrid’s Antonio Cassano out of his World Cup squad - he was worried Cassano would try one of these in a penalty shoot-out and cost him his job….
Archive for June, 2006
Researchers at Liverpool’s John Moore University claim to have discovered the components that make up the perfect penalty kick. These include: waiting less than 3 seconds to start the run-up which must be between 4-6 steps, during the run-up waiting less than 0.41 milliseconds for the goalkeeper to move and then hitting the ball with a velocity of between 25m/s and 29m/s. The researchers analysed penalty kicks taken by England players in their most crucial matches since 1962. Alan Shearer’s penalty in the second round match with Argentina at France ‘98 was a perfect penalty according to the research. The researchers have sent their findings to Sven Goran Eriksson in the hope that it will help England overcome their penalty blues.
Interesting as the results may be we question the basis of the research. If you want to examine successful penalty taking, why look at England penalties? Most of those have been missed! Instead they should have focused on Germany’s penalty taking efforts.
It would be intersting to see what the researchers made of Artem Milevskiy’s cool “Panenka” effort against Switzerland. Not text book, but much more entertaining, unless your name is Pascal Zuberbuhler!
If the World Cup were to stop today, who would be in your team of the tournament? Here is our selection of the players that have impressed us most so far, lined up to play 4-1-4-1:
Goalkeeper: Buffon (Italy) - A one man wall against the Czech Republic. Also played well against Australia.
Defender: Boka (Ivory Coast) - impressed with his pace and directness. Caused problems every time he went forward. Unlucky to be going home early due to the draw.
Defender: Ayala (Argentina) - Still has it even at 33. A steadying influence at the centre of the albiceleste’s defence. Sorin may be the captain but Ayala is the defensive leader.
Defender: Juan (Brazil) - Numerous last ditch tackles have saved his team mates from embarrassment
Defender: Lahm (Germany) - Like Boka a fullback who like to get forward. Plays on the left but is right-footed. Has the ability to beat the man on the outside or to cut inside and unleash powerful shots such as the one from which he scored against Costa Rica. Wanted by Chelsea.
Midfield: Ballack (Germany) - The driving force and chief creative influence against Poland, Ecuador and Sweden. Germany have improved dramatically since his return from injury. Sheer class.
Midfield: Kaka (Brazil) - Consistently the canarinha’s best player. The only member of o quarteto to be playing anywhere close to his potential. Stunning goal against Croatia.
Midfield: Mascherano (Argentina) - The best holding midfielder in the tournament. A strong tackler who is also blessed with superb technique and passing ability allowing to exert a creative influence from in front of the back four. An upgrade on Makelele. European clubs are sure to be testing Corinthians’ resolve following the end of the tournament.
Midfield: Maxi Rodriguez (Argentina) - Three goals so far, including the individual goal of the tournament to win the game against Mexico. Defends and attacks equally well. The unheralded star of the albiceleste.
Midfield: Riquelme (Argentina) - Showed his class when orchestrating Argentina’s demolition of Serbia and their defeat of the Ivory Coast. A classic number 10 who makes up for what he lacks in pace through skill and vision. Had an off day against Mexico but has undoubtedly confirmed his reputation as an elite player.
Attack: Klose(Germany) - At Korea/Kapan 2002 made an impression through his heading ability but showed little else. Since then he seems to have developed into a great allround performer, with good pace, dribling ability, shooting and passing. Had a great season for Werder and has carried that into the tournament.
With the quarters, semis and final left there are still opportunities for the likes of Ronaldinho, Henry, Maniche, Rooney and Shevchenko to catch the eye.
The stereotypical view of an Italian footballer is of a diver, who tries to cheat and influence the referee. Information Builders’ alternative World Cup statistics confirm this view. According to the company, Italian players have dived 25(!) times in their 4 matches (more than any other country), have tried tried to bully the referee 4 times (2nd behind Croatia) and have faked injury 7 times (again ranked 2nd). England fans, who tend to believe that their team does not dive will be surprised to hear that their heroes are hardly squeaky clean, being ranked 14th of the 32 teams in the diving stakes.
The stats also show that cheating doesn’t pay - the Italians have been punished by being the victims of the most wrong offside decisions. Finally, they may also explain why S&M capitulated so spectacularly against Argentina - their lack of patriotism: 31 of their players failed to sing the national anthem in their 3 matches, more than any other nation.
The information is slightly misleading using cumulative numbers rather than averages per match which would have been more accurate given that the teams will end up playing different numbers of matches. However, it still makes for interesting and entertaining reading!
So Nostradamus’ prophecy was wrong. Spain (as usual) flattered to deceive. Their early promise now seems to have more to do with the weakness of the opposition rather than their own quality. France were the first quality team they had had to face and unfortunately for the Spaniards, the former champions played their best match of their campaign to continue their tradition of never having lost to Spain in a competitive match. In a tight first half, Spain took the lead through Villa’s penalty converted after a silly foul by Thuram on Pablo Ibanez.
Spain deserved their lead but France looked dangerous on the break and they equalised shortly before half-time through the impressive Franck Ribery. In the second half France grew in confidence and began to play some of the best football they have played since Euro 2000. Raul must probably have regretted stating publicly that he hoped this would be ZZ’s last match - it only seemed to inspire the legend. ZZ delivered the cross from which Vieira made it 2-1 with 7 minutes to go and delivered the knockout blow in the 90th minute as Spain pressed forward for an equaliser.
France look confident and seem to have put their differences behind them. The Vieira - Ribery - Zidane - Henry axis is starting to work and in contrast to their next opponents Brazil they are improving with every match. What a match-up on Saturday night!
Here are the positives from today’s victory for Brazil:
- Ronaldo scored again broke Gerd Muller’s record for World Cup goals - he beat the offside trap and ran(!) through to score
- Adriano scored as well (although it should have been disallowed for offside)
- Kaka and Ze Roberto continue to play well
- They played badly yet won 3-0.
Now here are some negatives:
- The performance against Japan was a pleasant parenthesis - “Jogo Feo” seems to be the norm when the game is on the line
- In the absence of Robinho, the team lacks movement
- Ronaldinho looks burnt out and is performing nothing like he did for Barcelona
- Their defending continues to look chaotic and while this has always been the case for Brazil, they usually compensate for this in attack but not this time.
The problem is that while it is possible to add to the list of negatives, it’s hard to add to the list of positives. It’s just not the Brazil, we know, expect and love to watch!
Of course, how Brazil play is not only up to Brazil and like Australia and Croatia before them Ghana caused Brazil a number of problems. They created numerous chances, but their achilles heal was their finishing once again with Gyan and Amoah guilty of missing numerous opportunities. It was this combined with their naive defensing which ultimately cost them claiming a famous scalp. Ronaldo, Adriano and Ze Roberto all scored by beating the offside trap. So as Africa’s last representative goes out, the enigma continues: are Brazil just playing badly or are they overrated?
Switzerland missed all their penalties. The Ukrainians scored three. Suffice to say that England v Ecuador was a “classic” compared to this one so I will spare you the details! Can the Ukraine go any further? No.
Italy deserved to beat Australia - they had more chances despite playing the majority of the game with ten-men. However, the goal that secured their victory owed much to a skill that Italians have perfected over the years - diving. As Fabio Grosso cut in from the left, Lucas Neill slid in to block his path, a good two metres from Grosso. Grosso simply advanced towards him and fell over Neill’s prostrate body. Luis Medina Cantalejo pointed to the spot and Totti scored to give Italy victory in the last minute - a cruel blow.
In truth the Australians never really looked like scoring despite their numerical advantage. In contrast, Italy even seemed to benefit from Materazzi’s sending off. It allowed them to revert to the catenaccio that they know and love and move away from the more expansive game they showed during most of the first half. Italy now face the Ukraine and must be strong favourites for a semi-final place.
Here’s the dive, in all it’s glory….
The record number of cards shown by Valentin Ivanov is not the first time he has been the subject of controversy. Ivanov was the man who gave Villarreal their last minute “penalty” in the Champions League semi-final with Arsenal. At Euro 2004 he averaged 5.5 yellow cards per game, being outdone only by Manuel Gonzalez of Spain, Urs Maier of Switzerland and Portugal’s Lucilio Baptista who averaged and incredible 10 yellow cards per match.
His piece de resistance came in May 2003 when he was banned for two months from refereeing Russian League and Cup matches. His crime? changing his mind about awaring a goal after seeing a video replay while the game was being played. The incident occurred in the Cup semi-final between Rostov and Adzi Makhakhala. At first Ivanov awarded a goal in favour of Rostov. However, following intense protests from their opponents Ivanov decided to consult the video replay and eventually to annul the goal. The game was held up for 20 minutes before Ivanov finally decided that the ball had struck a hand and therefore should not have counted. At first Ivanov denied that the incident had taken place but was forced into an admission by the publication of photos depicting it in the Russian press….
FIFA must have been hoping that Graham Poll’s comical performance in awarding Simunic 3 yellow cards would be the last refereeing disaster of this World Cup. Step up referee Valentin Ivanov who secured his own place in the limelight by setting two World Cup records: sixteen(!) yellow cards and four sending offs - Deco, Costinha, Boulahrouz and Van Bronckhorst. Luis Figo was extremely lucky to escape being the fifth when he received only a yellow card for head-butting Van Bommel. FIFA then compounded the mistake by declaring that Figo’s punishment was sufficient today.
The match was an ill-tempered affair but Ivanov’s trigger happiness made it worse. Van Bommel had already hacked down Ronaldo before Boulahrouz stuck his studs into Ronaldo’s thigh and should have received more than a yellow. Ronaldo had to be replaced as a result of the challenge and may miss the quarterfinal with England. As the cards began to flow from Ivanov’s pocket, things gradually got worse. Players started to take advantage, exaggerating their dives in order to ensure Ivanov would book the offender. He obliged.
The only goal of the game was scored by Maniche, who combined well with Deco before beating two players and smashing the ball past Van der Sar. Holland had chances to equalise but were denied either by Ricardo or the woodwork. The match also completed Ruud Van Nistelrooy’s remarkable fall from grace this year with Van Basten benching him in favour of Dirk Kuyt.
Here’s Maniche’s goal:
It’s official – if you are a fan of boring matches watch England. Their matches against Paraguay, Trinidad & Tobago and now Ecuador have been among the most boring of the World Cup. Their football is dire. They can only be among the favourites on paper because they have done nothing so far to hint that they can become World champions and if there is any justice they won’t. The team have made it through to the quarter-finals because they have been lucky. Their draw has almost been as kind as Germany’s was at Korea/Japan 2002.
There were really only a couple of incidents that were memorable in this match. The first game when John Terry almost gifted Ecuador the lead when his attempted back header fell into the path of Carlos Tenorio, who should have scored. Instead, he took too much time and allowed Ashley Cole to race back and crucially deflect Tenorio’s shot onto the bar.
The second was David Beckham’s trade-mark free kick which gave England victory. He sent the ball up and over the wall and while Mora got his finger tips to it he could do no more than push it onto the post and into the net – a better goalie might have been able to do more. From then on England tried to hang on to their lead, replacing their best player at this tournament, Joe Cole with Jamie Carragher.
While Ecuador made good progress in reaching the English penalty area they rarely troubled Robinson again. Lampard had a great chance when Rooney nutmegged a defender and set him up but much like the other 20+ shots he has had in Germany to date, his effort was wildly off-target. Eriksson’s men now face Portugal on Saturday for a place in the semis. Based on current form it should be their last match of the tournament.
No doubt the Argentineans are a strong team. How many teams can bring the quality of Aimar, Tevez and Messi off the bench? However, if they do have one area of weakness it is at right back. Last night against Mexico Scaloni was frequently embarrassed by the Mexican wingers and Burdisso has not been convincing either. The irony is that Argentina could have called on one of the greatest players in this position over the last 10 years – Javier Zanetti. Instead, Pekerman chose to leave him at home, a decision he is probably regretting already.
So what of the game? Mexico probably produced their best performance of the tournament and pushed the Albiceleste all the way. The match got off to an electrifying start with Mexico’s captain and best player took advantage of an error by Gabriel Heinze to hit a half-volley past Abbondanzieri after just 4 minutes. Crespo soon had Argentina level. Riquelme’s cross casued havoc and Borgetti’s attempt at a header deflected of Crespo’s foot and past Oswaldo Sanchez. However, Argentina appeared nervous. The Mexican’s kept Riquelme tightly marked and stifled his creative influence, while looking dangerous on the counter-attack. Heinze was lucky to escape with just a yellow card following an atrocious error which almost let Fonseca in. True to the tradition of rugged Argentinean defending, he hacked Fonseca down.
In the second half Pekerman brought on Aimar, Tevez and Messi and they slowly began to turn the game. Their direct running caused the Mexican defenders many problems and Messi had a goal unfairly disallowed for offside in stoppage time.
In extra-time Argentina continued to attack in waves while Mexico seemed content to wait for penalties. With six minutes left of the first half, Sorin crossed, Maxi Rodriguez, on the edge of the area, controlled the ball on his chest and in one movement smashed a left-footed volley into Sanchez’s top right hand corner, to allow 38 million Argentineans to breathe a collective sigh of relief and leave the rest of us with the mouth-watering prospect of an Argentina v Germany quarterfinal to look forward to.
Here is Maxi’s goal for you all to enjoy