There are two theories about penalty. The supporters of one theory think the penalties are the essence of football, which excite the hearts of the fans of the participating teams. The others, however, claim that finding a winner through a series of shots from the 11th meter is one of the most unfair inventions in the history of the world. As you might expect, the fans of the teams that suffered defeat on penalties in the last race are not supporters of the penalty shoot-out.          The fans of the winning teams, however, are convinced that this way to determine the winner of a game is right.


Both the one and the other have their arguments. Have you ever thought about the chances of individual teams to win on penalties? Will a clear favorite defeat an outsider on penalties? The statistics are very interesting in this area.



How often is the result decided on penalties?

As an example, we take the European Championships – in the 21st Century, 5 Euro tournaments were held (14.11.2016). If you count the round of 16, quarter-finals, semi-finals and finals, then in these tournaments 43 games were played in the cup phase. 16 of them (almost 40%) ended with a draw and extra time and in 10 games the penalty shoot-out had to determine the winner. Statistically ended so every fourth game in the cup phase with penalty. So, before a big tournament, should one or two trainings be designed to refine this element of play?


According to football historian, a penalty in the game means almost 80% chances to score (interesting is that the goalkeeper has only about 30% chance of success, even if he jumps in the right direction – of course, it is only the statistics). On penalties, the chances of the goalkeeper are much higher, the fatigue of the players and an enormous stress report. As an example, let’s take a look at the quarter-finals of the last European Championships in France. The age old opponents – Italy against Germany in one game. The game could not be decided – neither in regular time nor in extra time. To determine the semi-finalists, 18 shots from the distance of 11 meters had to be led. The players of both teams have missed a total of 7 penalties (38%). If you look at the names, the reputation and the value of the shooters, it seems incredible.


Other incredible eleven-meter series in the European Championship? Allen still has the great Francesco Toldo before his eyes, who led Italy 2000 in the final. The co-hosts of the tournament – the Dutch have allowed no other option than to win medals. The Oranje team went through the tournament stages without any problems (including the 6-1 win over the star-studded Yugoslavia national team). Italy should be just another stop on the way to the final. This was also the opinion of the betting companies, which gave the hosts greater chances of winning. The events of 29.06.2000 will be remembered for a long time by Oranje fans. The Dutch have shot 2 penalties in regular time and then added 3 on penalties. The dreams of it, winning the title burst like a bubble. One might say, “how is it possible for such prestigious players to score 5 penalties in the most important game of their lives?” Anything is possible in football. The sooner you accept it, the higher chances of winning in betting one has.




Will the favorites always win on penalties?

Statisticians have estimated that in the years 2000 – 2016 53 eleven series were played in the most prestigious FIFA and UEFA tournaments. 30 of them won the team, which was considered a favorite before the game and in 23 cases, the favorite was defeated. According to statistics, the favorites decide the eleven-fighter series in their favor in only 57% of the cases (or is it perhaps quite a bit). One should not forget, however, that the favorite here is just a conventional term.


When will the penalty shoot-out take place? Usually in the cup stages of major tournaments, in European or national cup games. So do not expect to play in a 1/16 game of the World Cup Brazil, say Gibraltar (with all due respect and sympathy for the national team of Gibraltar).


And even if it came to that, it would not be more likely that the Canarinhos needed extra time and penalties to win the game.

As a rule, in such tournaments the teams who are at a similar level meet each other. For example, the game Portugal vs. Poland in the quarter-finals of the last European Championship in France and the result 1: 1 in regular time, goalless extra time and the penalty shootout that should determine the semi-finalists. The luck was on the side of the Portuguese and they reached the semi-finals, as the betting companies foresaw. But would the victory of Poland have been a big surprise?




What is better – to start or end the series?

It is said that penalties are a lottery. Happiness plays a more important role here than pure athletic ability. According to this theory, every fifth-tier player with a thick clumsy goal and a lame striker has 50% chances to defeat Bayern Munich with Manuel Neuer between the posts on penalties. It is not quite so. Of course, you need luck, as in life, but the skills and nerve power are also needed.


Not without significance are other, seemingly irrelevant details. Which goal will the players shoot at? Fans of which team are behind the goal? Which team is in better mental condition in the given part of the game? We still remember the 2005 Champions League Final and Liverpool’s fantastic victory on penalties. Would this have been possible without the incredible progress of the game? After the first 45 minutes, AC Milan players have probably just been thinking about where to spend their holidays with their lovely wives and girlfriends. The Italians have actually demolished Liverpool and only one madman could foresee that the Englishmen catch up with 0: 3. And yet it happened. The Reds ‘players first made up for their fans’ huge applause and then led to a penalty shoot-out. Every uninvolved observer fired at the English and on the faces of the Milanese one could see that on the one hand they could not believe it and on the other they were startled. Steven Gerard and his team have gained an incredible psychological advantage by catching up with such a backlog. They simply had to use this advantage. Steven Gerard and his team have gained an incredible psychological advantage by catching up with such a backlog. They simply had to use this advantage. Steven Gerard and his team have gained an incredible psychological advantage by catching up with such a backlog. They simply had to use this advantage. The English scientists have also come to very interesting conclusions. On the basis of the investigation, they have found that the team that is the first to shoot the penalty has 60% chance of winning. Why is it? The players who shoot as the first ones are theoretically under much smaller pressure. If they shoot the penalty, it remains in the worst case in a draw (assuming no one misses the penalty). The player who finishes the series can at best lead to this draw. To confirm this thesis, the scientists have conducted the investigation among the English players from lower leagues – to the question of whether they would prefer to start or finish the eleven-mile series, have said 100/100 that they would shoot rather than the first.


The best example? In the final of the European Cup (equivalent of today’s Champions League) 1986 played Steaua Bucharest against FC Barcelona on the stage in Seville. Of course, there could only be one favorite. And yet it was on the scoreboard after 120 minutes 0: 0 and the winner had to be determined by penalty shootout. After the raffle, the Romanians have started each series and the downcast by this fact stars of FC Barcelona Steauas goalkeeper Helmuth Ducadam never once defeated. The Romanian has blocked all 4 shots and was able to cheer with his colleagues!




The longer the series, the greater the chance of the favorite to win

It’s a principle that is not just in sport, not just on penalties. In general, it’s about the following: statistically, the more penalties are scored, the greater the likelihood that the favorite confirms his class and the theoretically weaker team finally has no luck. It is similar in the case of tennis. There are significantly fewer surprise results in the tournaments, where 3 sets are played than in the tournaments, where 2 won games are sufficient. Prolonged trial means minor randomness.

According to this principle, the victory of SK Batov in the game against FC Frystak should be considered fully deserved. The two fifth-division Czech Republic played against each other in 2016 in the opening stages of the Czech Cup. After regular game time was 3: 3 on the scoreboard and so the winner had to be determined by penalty shootout. In order for this to happen, 52 penalties had to be scored. The hosts finally won 22:21! After the decisive penalty you could hear in the stands “Finally !!!”. The player who missed the penalty, then said witty, the colleagues wanted him not to turn the penalty, because everyone wanted to go home. The president of one of the teams was unhappy, because he has missed because of the endless penalty shootout a barbecue party in the family.