Euro 2016 quarter finals, Germany defeated Italy 6-5 on penalties. Eighteen penalties performed, eleven scored: this is a warning about the lack of quality that has often been laid on shoot-outs. Don’t think it’s a joke, I’m serious: we live in the era of Leo Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, both considered as the best professional players in the world, both missing important penalties while playing with their national teams. Someone could say that a club match count more than a national one; but I could tell him that FIFA World Cup or UEFA Euros are still more attractive all over the world, compared with continental champions leagues, for example: you can check on the web the news about billions $ in tv rights, million supporters in the streets after a victory.
Penalties, yes, that’s the point. What is the difference between the shoot-outs missed by Baresi, Massaro and Roberto Baggio in USA 94 final, and the epic fails by Zaza, Pellè, Bonucci and Darmian in Euro 2016 quarter final? Quality. And quality comes from fitness and seriousness.
Franco Baresi, Daniele Massaro and Roberto Baggio played 120 minutes against Brazil – do you remember Romario, Dunga, Taffarel? – and their failures were due to cramps: especially Baresi, that came back against Brazil after recovering from a meniscus surgery in only twenty days. On the other side, Roberto Baggio was injured and Arrigo Sacchi should have replaced him during a so sensitive match. In USA 94 final Italy and Brazil performed nine penalties, missing three: the winner came out before the sudden death.
Simone Zaza was subbed in at 119′, in time to kick once and beat Neuer from 12 yards (11 meters), with no need to take a shower: no, he started to dance in front of the German keeper and then sent the ball past the crossbar. Don’t try to forgive Graziano Pellè, because he has not yet learned that one goal scored is more valuable than his haircut; he made the same mistake like Montolivo in the previous Euro: out on the left, and don’t worry about the cameramen! Leonardo Bonucci could become the man of the match, after scoring the equalizer penalty at 78′, but this time his shot was saved; I can’t blame him, he played a strong game and took again the responsibility. Matteo Darmian came in the game at 86′ to replace cramped Florenzi, so he was fit and, after thirty-five minutes of warm-up, his penalty was saved and Hector scored the German winner.
We can find many games and players that can confirm: there is a problem in shoot-outs, players don’t take them seriously as was in the past. Compare today with yesterday: Maradona did never say goodbye for a missed penalty, as did Messi after Copa America Centenario…