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Goalkeepers, penalty kicks and acknowledging good ol’ luck

Jun 26, 2013, 5:46 PM EDT

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Riddle me this: Why do so many TV announcers hate to acknowledge the role ol’ lady luck plays in penalty kick success or failure?

I’m thinking about this after watching Diego Forlan fail to convert an early spot shot for Uruguay against Brazil in today’s Confederations Cup semifinal.

It seems to me that two penalty kicks can be hit in the exact same spot, with the precise same amount of power. If one goes in, we hear about “sending the goalkeeper the wrong way,” and about how a “well-taken shot” never gave the ‘keeper a chance and such.

But if a mirror image is turned away, we tend to get complaints of “not a lot of pace” and “poorly placed” and the all-encompassing “not the best penalty kick.”

Only, it’s the same darn shot!

It’s just a nit-pick for me, but it strikes me as seriously over-analyzing things. We know that goalkeepers guess most of the time. Yes, the shooters body shape may provide such a telling tell that a backstopper does actually read the movement in real time. But mostly it’s just a guess.

Sometimes they guess correctly. At that point, the well-considered, confident strike becomes, well, “not the best penalty kick.”

Forlan’s shot? It wasn’t bad, directed well enough into the lower right corner, with sufficient pace.

But Brazil’s Julio Cesar got there. Credit the goalkeeper for making the moment – but let’s not get all hyper-critical and elitist about the shot takers. Sometimes, luck and fortune are just on the other guy’s side.

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