May 10, 2021
The Manchester City striker’s gamble backfired against Chelsea, so why do players take a risk with a high-tariff move?
Was Aguero’s Panenka really a mistake? Analysing the art and science of penalties | Sean Ingle
It took two years for Antonín Panenka to perfect the flop-wedge penalty that bears his name. First he practised it against the Bohemians goalkeeper Zdenek Hruska in training shootouts, on which they would stake beer and chocolate, then in friendlies and league matches. And then, with Czechoslovakia 4-3 up on penalties in the 1976 European Championship final, he saw the West Germany keeper Sepp Maier move early – and scooped the ball impudently over him, not only securing the trophy but instantly trademarking a new move.
The secret, Panenka explained to Ben Lyttleton in his book, Twelve Yards, was to use a long runup to see what Maier was going to do. “I ran fast, because then it’s harder for the goalkeeper to read your body language,” he said. “Even when I’m a yard away from the ball, Maier is already moving to the left. If I wasn’t using the chip, I would have put it in the opposite direction.”
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