In Friday’s Wall Street Journal, there was an article about penalty kicks whose contents somewhat mirror my own view (here). The title was, “The World’s Best Players Struggle with the World’s Easiest Shot.” Exactly. They pictured an image of a goal with outlines of balls showing where each penalty kick went that was taken this year in England’s Premier League. The green ones were successful, while the black ones were saved. (Actually, the chart is misleading because one of the “saved” kicks was merely pushed against the post. It bounced back at the goalie and went into the goal off of his head.) I would count a shot as good only if it were to hit the (inner) side netting, but only two out of thirty-one shots were good by this criterion. The best that you can say is that only one shot missed the goal entirely.
But I claim the following:
1. Any shot with a reasonable amount of speed placed within a foot of the post in a corner is unstoppable by the best goalies in the world.
2. Everyone taking a penalty kick in the world’s major leagues and tournaments should be capable of taking such a shot.
3. If most of the time you can’t produce such a shot, then most of the time you won’t be able to shoot accurately during the regular flow of the game, either.
After all, a penalty kick is done under ideal conditions. You don’t have to rush the shot, you don’t have to worry about any other player suddenly stepping in front of you to block it, the goalie has an enormous amount of area to cover, and so on. If you can’t shoot accurately under such conditions, how well will you shoot when conditions are much worse?
What all this means is that a lot of shots on goal are not accurate, which makes for frustrating viewing by us fans, and of course ridicule by soccer’s enemies.