Botched penalties in 2016: Cristiano Ronaldo, Messi and more
Among the numerous comparisons between Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, there is one on their success in converting penalties. Ronaldo’s success rate at Real Madrid is 84.62% while that of Messi’s at FC Barcelona is 76.71%. In internationals: Messi is at 83.33% and Ronaldo 61.54%.
Name the first Portuguese player to have missed a penalty in a World Cup or European championship finals. Answer: Cristiano Ronaldo.
According to a Sky Sports report on June 19 this year, that happened when Cristiano Ronaldo fluffed his lines from the spot against Austria in Euro 2016. The match that ended 0-0 was also his 128th, making Ronaldo Portugal’s most-capped footballer.
It came at a time when he was going through his worst penalty-conversion phase. That was, according to Sky Sport, was his fifth penalty miss. Cristiano Ronaldo had till then converted only one penalty for club and country in five attempts.
Ronaldo missed a penalty again on Sunday against Latvia in a World Cup qualifier but still got two goals, taking his tally to 68 for Portugal, the same as Gerd Mueller. The first came from a penalty; Ronaldo drilling his effort into bottom corner. The second came when Latvia’s defence played him on-side and then were ball-watching when Ricardo Quaresma’s delivery floated in from the right.
Between those efforts was the botched penalty. CR7 was unlucky to see his effort hit the inside of the post and go out after taking a deflection off the goalie Andris Vanins’ legs.
Among the numerous comparisons between Lionel Messi and Ronaldo, there is one on their success in converting penalties. Ronaldo’s success rate at Real is 84.62% while that of Messi’s at Barcelona is 76.71%. But the picture alters when it comes to internationals: Messi is at 83.33% and Ronaldo 61.54%.
Penalty misses by these two modern football gladiators reminds us of something what we often forget in the rush of their exploits: that they are human. When Ronaldo missed his penalty in the 2008 Champions League final for Manchester United, a second title for Alex Ferguson looked lost till John Terry too slipped.
And Messi may not have retired had he not orbited his effort in the final of the Copa America Centenario. That was the first time Messi had ever missed in the tie-breaker. Chelsea too may not have won broken their Champions League hoodoo had Messi not blasted into the horizontal when Barcelona were leading 2-1.
In the last Euros, Germany showed that they too aren’t infallible from the spot. Thomas Mueller became the first German to miss a penalty in the tie-breaker against Italy since 1982! And it spread like a virus with Bastian Schweinsteiger and Mesut Oezil too missing their attempts.
When Gareth Southgate, the interim England manager, had his penalty saved in the 1996 Euro semi-final against Germany at Wembley, he is reported to have said: “No matter how much the other players try to console me, I’m still left with the feeling that I let everybody down.” Perhaps because his mother Barbara too had asked: “Why didn’t you just belt it son?”
Roberto Baggio should perhaps have the last word on this. Speaking about his miss in the 1994 World Cup final, ‘The Divine Ponytail’ is quoted as saying in the Observer (May 19, 2002): “Only those who have the courage to take a penalty miss them.”