Penalty Shot Breakdown 2008 Champions League Final

If you are into soccer and economics (who isn’t???); check this out.

I was reading the book Soccernomics by Simon Kuper and Stefan Szymanski and they have a chapter analysing penalty shots.

Read this from the book:

“One friend of Ignacio who knew about his research was a professor of economics and mathematics at an Israeli university. It so happened that this man was also a friend of Avram Grant. When Grant’s Chelsea reached the final in Moscow in 2008, the professor realized that Ignacio’s research might help Grant. He put the two men in touch. Ignacio then sent Grant a report that made four points about Manchester United and penalties:

1. Van der Sar tended to dive to the kicker’s “natural side” more often than most keepers did. This meant that when facing a rightfooted kicker, Van der Sar would usually dive to his own right, and when facing a left-footed kicker, to his own left. So Chelsea rightfooted penalty takers would have a better chance if they shot to
their “unnatural side,” Van der Sar’s left.

2. Huerta emphasized in his report that “the vast majority of the penalties that Van der Sar stops are those kicked to a mid-height (say, between 1 and 1.5 meters), and hence that penalties against him should be kicked just on the ground or high up.”

3. Cristiano Ronaldo was another special case. Ignacio wrote in the report: “Ronaldo often stops in the run-up to the ball. If he stops, he is likely (85%) to kick to the right hand side of the goalkeeper.” Ignacio added that Ronaldo seemed able to change his mind about where to put the ball at the very last instant. That meant it
was crucial for the opposing keeper not to move early. When a keeper moved early, Ronaldo always scored.

4. The team that wins the toss before the shoot-out gets to choose whether to go first. But this is a no-brainer: it should always go first. Teams going first win 60 percent of the time, presumably because there is too much pressure on the team going second, which is always having to score to save the game.”

Then watch this (I couldn’t find a better quality video):

I think my favourite part is Anelka’s shot described in Soccernomics:

“As Anelka prepared to take Chelsea’s seventh penalty, the gangling keeper, standing on the goal line, extended his arms to either side of him. Then, in what must have been a chilling moment for Anelka, the Dutchman pointed with his left hand to the left corner. “That’s where you’re all putting it, isn’t it?” he seemed to be saying.”

Anelka breaks pattern, shoots to Van der Sar’s right, shot stopped and Manchester wins.

By one estimate, that penalty cost Chelsea $170 million.

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