European Football Championship: England and the penalties: Practice and don’t talk about it

European Football Championship: England and the penalties: Practice and don’t talk about it
European Football Championship: England and the penalties: Practice and don’t talk about it

So far, minimalist England has managed to get through the European Championships quite well. This will now be different in the place that fans don’t have good memories of. One scene shows all the nervousness.

Every year again – that is not exactly a happy message for England’s footballers. After securing their ticket for the knockout round of the European Championship, the motherland of football is once again threatened with the hated discipline that has so often knocked them out of important tournaments in recent years: the penalty shootout. In additional shifts – often after the actual training sessions – Harry Kane and Co. practice and simulate the real thing from the penalty spot in sunny Blankenhain before the round of 16 on Sunday against Slovakia (6 p.m./ZDF and MagentaTV).

“We’re putting a lot of work into it. We went really well with the penalties in training. And it’s important that we make sure we’re ready for the worst case scenario,” said defender Marc Guehi. When another journalist asked about the details and frequency of the exercises, however, the nervousness in the English camp became apparent.

Professional should not answer any further questions

“I’m sorry, I’m going to get involved. I don’t want to give away a competitive advantage,” said communications manager Andy Walker, cutting off the Crystal Palace professional’s response. Walker immediately called the next reporter. Guehi, who had been thwarted, grinned somewhat sheepishly.

Fellow defender Kieran Trippier recently described the procedure under head coach Gareth Southgate. Players are selected to take three penalties each – these are then analyzed. The Three Lions and the much-criticized Southgate have enough to do before returning to Gelsenkirchen, where thousands of fans experienced transport chaos after the 1-0 win against Serbia at the start of the European Championship.

Jokes about the terrible balance sheet

In the bumpy preliminary round of the European Championship, with just two goals scored, there was a lack of spirit, ideas and speed. But the extra work for the penalties is a must. The history of England emerging victorious from a nerve-wracking game in the important tournaments since the 1998 World Cup is too much to bear.

Southgate has tried a lot in his almost eight years as head coach: Before the 2018 World Cup, coaches and professionals told jokes about all the defeats from the penalty spot in which Southgate had already played a major role as a player: In the semi-final of the 1996 European Championship against Germany, the current national coach himself missed the decisive penalty. However, his measures initially seemed to have an effect: Against Colombia at the 2018 World Cup, a victory in the penalty shootout was actually achieved.

Now Gelsenkirchen is waiting again. Two weeks ago, neither fans nor journalists had particularly positive experiences with the home of FC Schalke 04. The supporters waited for hours on overcrowded platforms in the middle of the night. The on-site reporters were outraged by the dreary place, which one blogger described as an “absolute shithole”. And Gelsenkirchen is also notorious for the Three Lions. After all, they lost the 2006 World Cup quarter-final against Portugal there – naturally on penalties.

Penalty kicks fill entire books

The nerve-wracking game after 120 minutes, which is popular with fans, is a huge topic in England. The “Telegraph” analyzed the English shooters before the weekend and divided them into groups based on frequency and hit rate. Captain Kane, winger Bukayo Saka and reserve Ivan Toney are considered particularly sure candidates. But given five possible substitutions, it is questionable who from the starting eleven, which Kane and Saka are likely to be part of, will actually be on the pitch.

Penalty shootouts, with their stories, lessons and pitfalls, now fill entire books. In September of this year, a book entitled “Under Pressure – What we can learn for life from the psychology of penalty shootouts” will be published – the book has 290 pages.

However, England is now in good company as a candidate for a penalty. The French have also lost their last three duels from the penalty spot: the two World Cup finals in 2006 against Italy and in 2022 against Argentina, as well as the 2021 European Championship round of 16 against Switzerland.

Coach Didier Deschamps, however, said: “It is impossible to simulate the penalty situation in training.” Psychologically, there is a “huge difference” whether you play in training, during the game or after extra time. Who could testify to this better than the long-suffering footballers from England.

Source: Stern

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