nerves of steel

From Lineker to Pirlo: The best and worst attempts at the panenka

Lionel Messi’s panenka against Getafe is the latest in a long line of cheeky efforts.

LIONEL MESSI OPENED the scoring for Barcelona last night with a wonderful panenka penalty, the first of six goals they put past a helpless Getafe.

After Luis Suarez had been fouled in the box, the Argentine forward surprised goalkeeper Vicente Guaita by using the panenka technique for the very first time in his career.

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While the panenka might not take too much skill, the nerve required is unrivaled. Having the self-belief to run up to a dead ball from 12 yards, quite often when the world is watching, and nonchalantly lob the ball down the middle of the goal requires a special kind of footballer. But for its creator Antonin Panenka, he thought of it as the logical choice.

“I chose the penalty because I saw and realised it was the easiest and simplest recipe for scoring a goal. It is a simple recipe.”

He first used the technique playing for Czechoslovakia in the 1976 European Championship final. After playing out a 2-2 draw with West Germany, Panenka stepped up in the resulting penalty shoot-out with the chance to win his country their first ever major title. So…no pressure.

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Over the years, countless players have tried to duplicate panenka’s technique. Some have been successful, and quite a lot have not. Here we look back on some of the most memorable efforts.

From the best…

Pirlo v England

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One of the best known panenka’s is Andrea Pirlo’s penalty in Italy’s Euro 2012 quarter-final against England. A miss from Montolivo had put in England in the driving seat and Italy couldn’t afford another mistake.

Up stepped Pirlo and with outrageous confidence, he lobbed Joe Hart and seemed to rock England in the process. Misses from Ashley Cole and Ashley Young would lead to another penalty-shootout heartbreak for England and Italy moving onto the semi-finals.

 Zidane v Italy

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In the 2006 World Cup final in Berlin, France were awarded a seventh minute penalty when Florent Malouda was fouled in the Italian penalty box. Playing in his last ever professional match, there was only ever one player who was going to take the resulting spot-kick.

Zinedine Zidane sent Buffon the wrong way with a delicate chip that struck the underside of the bar and bounced down over the line. Unfortunately, this would not be the lasting memory of Zidane from that final.

Sebastian Abreu v Ghana

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The man called ‘El Loco’ broke Ghanaian hearts when his chip lazily arced into the net to complete a 4-2 shootout victory and send Uruguay to the World Cup semi-finals for the first time since 1970.

Many will remember that the South Americans only reached penalties because of Luis Suarez’s infamous ‘Hand of the Devil’.

To the worst…

Landreau v Sochaux

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Nantes keeper and captain Mickael Landreau made a name for himself as a keeper who could score from the spot. He was so confident in his abilities that he tried a panenka in the 2004 French League Cup final against Sochaux.

It has to go down as one of the worst attempts ever, as his weak chip harmlessly sailed into the hands of Teddy Richert and Nantes went on to lose the match.

Lineker v Brazil

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One of the most famous examples of a failed panenka is Gary Lineker’s miss during England’s friendly with Brazil at Wembley in 1992.

With 48 goals for his country, Lineker was one goal away from equaling the record set by World Cup winner Bobby Charlton.

Sadly, the future Match of the Day presenter never managed to match Charlton’s record.

 Pirlo v Barcelona

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One of the interesting things about Pirlo’s penalty against England is that the Italian had himself been embarassed two years previously when he attempted a panenka against Barcelona in a friendly at the Nou Camp.

The fact that he was willing to risk similar embarrassment in such a high pressure game says it all about Andrea Pirlo.

What’s your favourite successful or unsuccessful panenka? 

Read: Statistics show why Liverpool have struggled this season

Read: Is the FA Cup about to be renamed?

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