Should England Use Penalties After Friendlies To Prepare For 2014 World Cup?

By Stowe Gregory
Image via Илья Хохлов – Wiki Commons

With England set for the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil, the fear of a potential penalty shoot out exit is once again already on the agenda of things to improve on before next summer. The FA are considering introducing penalty shoot-outs to England’s upcoming friendlies, in order to prepare. But would this actually be a viable idea?

The friendlies coming up against Chile and Germany provide the English National Team with two different tests, but if they were to end in draws then they may well be looking at a penalty shoot out.

It would certainly help replicate the situation of the task of a penalty kick, in front of a packed crowd at International level to decide the result, but not in the same manner. I personally believe it is impossible to replicate that. You can have domestic-cup ties, European knockout games and all the training you want with penalties, but there is no substitute to the pressure of a player taking a penalty at a World Cup.

But more so, taking one for England is a whole different realm of fear. The nation is used to failing from the spot in major tournaments. They’re used to players coming back in the summer getting ridiculed for missing and they’re used to reading articles like this, debating such ideas. But with just a 17 percent success rate in penalty shoot-outs, England are looking for any bit of help; especially when you consider that Argentina have 73 percent and Germany 71 percent.

Pressure would be applied on those players in a penalty shoot out following a friendly. They would be scared of the headlines that would follow and the fact that it would still be letting down your country in terms of confidence with a World Cup on the horizon. But I still can’t see it matching a World Cup’s level of demand, plus the negative affects of these preparation shootouts could be huge.

Imagine if you miss a penalty in these friendlies then have the task of taking the deciding penalty in the quarterfinals of the World Cup? There would almost certainly be flashbacks, but also months of uncertainty over penalties could follow these friendlies.

England have a bounce about them right now. The blend of youth and experience means they are feeling quietly confident and free. But to ruin that with rather trivial penalties following friendlies for could be detrimental and ultimately, worthless — because a World Cup shoot out is impossible to replicate. However, training should still include practice from the spot, as technique from 12 yards should be of the highest quality.

Stowe Gregory is an English Soccer and Sports writer for Follow him or tweet on Twitter @stowegregory. Or add to circles on Google+.

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