Euro 2024 | 'Titan stoppers' give Portugal, Spain and France shootout edge

When it comes to shootouts, Porto's Costa and AC Milan's Maignan have both saved 42.9 per cent of penalties, closely followed by Athletic Bilbao's Simon on 38.1 per cent.
Last Updated : 04 July 2024, 16:04 IST

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Dusseldorf: Portugal, Spain and France have the goalkeepers most likely to be stars of any shootouts in Euro 2024, according to a penalties analysis ahead of the quarter-finals, while England and Turkey might be short on saves if spot-kicks are the decider.

A performance profile of the tournament's eight remaining first-choice keepers compiled for Reuters by goalkeeper-specific intelligence firm Goalkeeper xG shows Portugal's Diego Costa is the standout stopper of penalties in top-flight matches, saving 32.1 per cent of the 28 he has faced.

His record was stellar even before his three consecutive saves in Monday's shootout against Slovenia, but he is not alone, with Spain's Unai Simon and France's Mike Maignan stopping an impressive 26 per cent and 23.7 per cent of on-target spot-kicks, having faced roughly double the number of the younger Costa.

On average, goalkeepers in top-flight matches save 18 per cent of on-target penalties, according to Goalkeeper xG, which provides data intelligence services to support recruitment, performance and development of goalkeepers, including determining their financial value.

When it comes to shootouts, Porto's Costa and AC Milan's Maignan have both saved 42.9 per cent of penalties, closely followed by Athletic Bilbao's Simon on 38.1 per cent.

Netherlands' Bart Verbruggen has saved one in four during shootouts, although he has only faced 24 penalties overall, while Germany's Manuel Neuer has stopped about 23 per cent of the 119 he has faced in regular time and shootouts.

The other three quarter-finalists could be at a disadvantage, however, with their keepers below the model's saving average.

Switzerland's Yann Sommer, a veteran of three Euros shootouts who saved Kylian Mbappe's penalty in the last edition to eliminate France, has stopped 17.5 per cent of his 137 penalties.

England's Jordan Pickford has saved 16.9 per cent of 77 from the spot. Pickford, who famously attached players' penalty patterns to his water bottle, has fared slightly better in shootouts at 19.4 per cent.

Turkey's Mert Gunock has a success rate of 16.3 per cent from 49 penalties, stopping just one in 10 during shootouts.


John Harrison, who created the firm's statistical modelling, said if Friday's matches, Portugal v France and Spain v Germany, went to penalties, there could be high drama with "titan penalty stoppers" Costa, Simon, Neuer and Maignan in action.

Costa and Simon had very similar approaches, he said, both knowing which direction to go and waiting for the last moment before moving, generating power from their feet in the same way.

Due to the records of the goalkeepers involved, the expectation of converting in shootouts in those games would fall from the average 75 per cent to a range of 65 per cent-70 per cent, according to the data, with a 63 per cent chance of French players beating Costa.

"We might see some very interesting shootouts with the big-hitters there," Harrison added.

There have been 17 penalties at Euro 2024, including six in the Portugal-Slovenia shootout, with 11 converted.

All penalty takers should understand they were being profiled with analytics, according to Harrison's team, which said it was not working with teams or organisations at Euro 2024 due to club partner commitments in the transfer market.

It found goalkeepers had overperformed in Germany, with six saves from the 17 attempts against an expected 3.2 saves.

Penalty placement at Euro 2024 was similar to the 2022 World Cup, it found. As an indicator goalkeepers were doing their homework, their movement decisions roughly matched where the penalties were likely to go, although takers were being less predictable, the analysis found.

Players went for the "power side" - the side opposite to their favoured foot - 53 per cent of the time and goalkeepers dived that way in 59 per cent of spot-kicks. Both taker and keeper went middle in 6 per cent of instances, while takers chose the placement side in 41 per cent of penalties, against 35 per cent for keepers.

Harrison said a mixed strategy was the more successful approach as top goalkeepers could read takers better, challenging popular assumptions that penalties were sometimes guesswork.

Published 04 July 2024, 16:04 IST

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