Can England slay the penalty dragon?

It’s a familiar story. 

England advance to the knockout stages of a major tournament, the game goes into extra time and then a penalty shootout. England lose.

This scenario has repeated itself so many times over the last 25 years that pessimistic England fans find themselves predicting a shootout exit even before most tournaments have begun.

It all began back at Italia 90 with a World Cup semi-final shootout exit to West Germany.

image

Six years later there was a repeat performance at Euro 96, England once again going out in the semi-finals at the hands of a now unified Germany. This came after England had won their first, and to date, only penalty shootout by beating Spain in the quarter-finals.

Two years later at the 1998 World Cup, England once again lost on penalties, this time to Argentina following a 2-2 draw.

image

The next two shootout defeats came in quarter-finals at the hands of Portugal, at Euro 2004 and the World Cup two years later.

image

The Three Lion’s last penalty exit also happened at the quarter-final stage, this time at Euro 2012 against Italy, and it is a shootout England captain Wayne Rooney remembers well.

"It's a nervous moment. I remember in the last Euros against Italy. As I've said before, I always know which way I'm going and [Gianluigi] Buffon was actually pointing and telling me he knows I'm going that way.

"He was right, so then I started wondering if I should go the other way. But I ended up the going the same way but he dived the other way. Just by a goalkeeper pointing one way, it can knock you off. But you have to be confident in what you have practised."

Rooney revealed that England have stepped up practice ahead of Monday’s tie against Iceland.

"I think now we are in the knockout stages I'm sure we will practice a lot more as a group rather than players going up individually – practice as a group in case it comes and we need them," he said.

Should England have to endure the nightmare of another penalty shootout in France, their fans will be hoping that practice makes perfect!

Comments