Every football tipster knows perfectly well that every detail can be helpful in successful bets. Today we’ll look at the statistics of the free kicks and see how often these goals are scored.
Without perfectly executed free kicks by Platini, France would probably not have won the 1984 European Championship medal.
The fantastic Johan Cruyffs FC Barcelona would not have won the European Cup in 1992 if Ronald Koeman had not converted a perfect free kick to the goal in the extra time of the final on Wembley. Without Beckham’s fantastic free-kick in the stoppage of the game against Greece, the English would not have qualified for World Cups in Japan and South Korea and Beckham would probably still have to pay for the red card from the previous World Cup.
On average, 5% of the direct free kicks end with the goal
A good free kick specialist is really a treasure for every team. The team that has a player who can shoot successfully from the free kick has a huge advantage over the opponent. The defenders of the opposing team can not allow a sharper game in the immediate vicinity of his own penalty area, because any foul can end with a cashed goal. How often are goals scored after free kicks? Should we consider this game element when betting? Let’s see what the statistics say.
In one of the previous tutorials How is the number of shots in the game result reflected? We’ve found that a player has 24% chance of scoring if he shoots with his foot from a 10-yard distance.
A shot from 16 yards has a chance of success in 13% of the cases and the attempts from a distance greater than 20 meters end with a hit only in 3% of cases. The situation looks very different when the player has the opportunity to complete the shot with a dormant ball. In the case of the penalty, the chance of success is about 80% and according to statisticians, a free kick is turned into a goal in 5% of the attempts. Is it a lot or a little? It is a dispute.
In the 2011/2012 season of the English Premier League, for example, ended 5.2% of direct free kicks with the goal. In 25% of the cases, the goalkeeper defended the shot, 38% of the shots were over at goal and 32% were blocked by the players standing in the wall.
How many goals are scored in big tournaments by free kicks?
Let’s see how often in big tournaments the free kicks are turned into goals. Let us take as an example the European Championships in years 1980 – 2016. In 1980 in Italy only one goal was scored in this way. In 1984 in France, there were 3 goals, 2 of which Platini scored (one in the final). In 1988, the tournament took place in Germany and brought only 1 goal of this kind, 1992 in Sweden could see 2 such hits (both has the German Thomas Häßler achieved). In the European Championship in England in 1996 Christo Stoichkow scored the only goal from the free kick. In the European Championship 2000 the spectators could admire 2 successful free-kick shots. Then came three goals in 2004, two goals in 2008 and one free-kick from Andrea Pirlo in 2012. Euro 2016 have had the most free-kick goals so far, four of them (two by Gareth Bale). In summary, in the last 10 tournaments a total of 20 goals have been scored in this way – the average of two goals per tournament can hardly impress anyone.
The best / worst free kickers in the big tournaments
The player with the best free kick statistics in European Championship and World Cup is Thomas Häßler. Thanks to two goals he scored in Euro 92, he has the 20% efficiency in this game element – in other words, every fifth shot of him landed on the net. Things are a bit worse for David Beckham – 15.4% and Christo Stoichkov – 11.8%. And the worst players in this game element? If you only consider the games in the big tournaments, then in this classification … Cristiano Ronaldo! None of his 34 attempts during World Cup and European Championship ended with the goal! Considering his stats in club games can be a bit shocking. Even free-kick specialists such as Romanian Gheorge Hagi (27 attempts) and Ronald Koeman (22 attempts) have not scored a single goal from the free kick in a major tournament.
Is CR7 the best free kick shooter? Not necessarily.
594 attempts, 41 goals, 6.9% efficiency – these are Ronaldo’s statistics on his free-kicks in Manchester United and Real Madrid (as of June 2016). The term free kick creates the image of the Portuguese, who counts his steps meticulously, stands wide-legged and prepares for the shot with many football fans. Of course, Cristiano Ronaldo is an excellent free kick, but not the best.
His series in the big tournaments we have already mentioned. However, it was similar in Real Madrid – between April 2014 and March 2015, he scored not one goal from the free kick, although he tried 51 times during that period. 21 shots were blocked, 14 landed in the stands and in 16 cases the goalkeeper was better.
Such long goalless series are all the stranger that Ronaldo, according to scientists, actually has a perfect physique and perfectly built muscles to perform the free kicks properly. With his height of 185cm, his foot is disproportionately small – shoe size 41.
At full tension with such a small foot, the ball starts to spin in the air, confusing even the best goalkeepers in the world. If we add to that the perfectly muscular legs of Cristiano (these are partly the effect of his hard work, but are also related to his organism), we get a picture of a perfect free kick shooter. But why are there periods when he can not turn a free kick?
Former Manchester City manager Mark Hughes dealt with this problem a few years ago. He has noticed, namely, that Ronaldo’s posture when performing free kicks is completely atypical and also causes enormous overload of his knees. He also found that only one superman could endure such overwork for several seasons without compromising his health. Maybe this is the reason for the poorer efficiency of the superstar in recent years?
Messi and Ronaldo far behind … Miralem Pjanic
If you run a survey of 1000 random children around the world and ask them about their favorite footballer, probably 95% call Messi or Ronaldo. So our dear ones, we have very bad information for you. Of course, the stars of FC Barcelona and Real Madrid are great athletes and excellent football players, but you can not call them the best free kick specialists. Both in the past and now you can find better free-kick shooters.
Check the seasons 2013/2014 and 2014/2015 in European football. The efficiency of Messi in this game element was then 5.7% (70 attempts – 4 goals) and Ronaldo was just a little better – 6.8% (73 – 5). The two were far behind Andrea Pirlo – 12% (49 – 6), Gareth Bale – 12% (24-3), Hakan Calhanoglu – 13% (82-11), Kevin Mirallas – 15% (22-3), Christian Eriksen – 16% (42 – 6) or Zlatko Januzovic – 17% (35 – 5). The king of free kicks was then the Bosnian Miralem Pjanic – 18.5% (38 – 7).
And the other top free-shots in recent years? The list is long. Beckham, Del Piero, Zidane, Roberto Carlos, Maradona, Zico, Mihajlovic, Ronaldinho, Baggio, Gerrard, Lampard, you can call the names without end. Many of you think Brazil’s Juninho Pernambucano is the best free kicker. In his 8 seasons in Europe he scored more than 100 goals for Olympique Lyon and almost half of them were free kick goals.
One can not overlook the brilliant Brazilian goalkeeper Rogerio Ceni, who not only staved off many of his opponents during his 25-year professional career but also scored 131 goals, including more than 60 on the free kick. Ceni ended his footballing career in 2015, but we think his record will remain unbeaten for several years.