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Friday, Oct 18, 2019

FIFA World Cup 2018: Is Cristiano Ronaldo actually bad at penalties for Portugal?

Cristiano Ronaldo failed to convert from the spot as Portugal finished second in Group B thanks to a 1-1 draw against Iran in the FIFA World Cup 2018 on Monday.

football Updated: Jun 26, 2018 18:41 IST
Shijith P Kunhitty
Shijith P Kunhitty
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Cristiano Ronaldo in action during Portugal’s FIFA World Cup 2018 encounter against Iran on Monday.
Cristiano Ronaldo in action during Portugal’s FIFA World Cup 2018 encounter against Iran on Monday.(AFP)

In an action-packed match between Portugal and Iran, the Portuguese icon Cristiano Ronaldo missed a penalty for his team. The miss could prove costly as the 1-1 draw with Iran leaves the Portuguese side in a potentially tougher half of the draw.

But if we look at Ronaldo’s penalty record for his national side over the past few years, his miss shouldn’t actually come as a surprise. We take a look at Ronaldo’s penalty record and some horrible Spanish goal-keeping in this data summary of Monday’s FIFA World Cup 2018 matches.

Ronaldo’s ok at penalties, just not for Portugal

Ronaldo has missed around 20 penalties overall in his career, with around half (nine) of them coming in the past three seasons. His record for his club Real Madrid is not that bad though.

In the past three seasons, Ronaldo has only missed an average of one in five penalties for Real Madrid, which is about par for most good penalty takers. And his career record for his various clubs is a little better, missing just 15 out of 111 penalties or around 14%.


But when it comes to taking penalties for his national side, he’s missed half his penalties over the past three seasons. He’s taken eight penalties for Portugal (including the one against Iran) and missed four of them in the past three seasons.

So to answer the question ‘Is Ronaldo bad at penalties?’, he isn’t. He’s just bad at them for his country.

De Gea’s having a ‘mare of a World Cup

The Spanish somehow sneaked their way to the top of their group with a 2-2 draw against Morocco. One person who has gotten a lot of blame is the Spanish goalkeeper David De Gea, who even let in the first Moroccan goal through his legs!

And if we look at the data, it seems some of the criticism for De Gea is well deserved. De Gea has actually been a mainstay for the Spanish national team and his club side Manchester United for a few years now and wouldn’t be where he is if he wasn’t a good goalkeeper.

But there is no doubt that his standards have slipped at the World Cup. To figure out how much his performance has worsened, we compared his stats at Euro 2016 to this World Cup.


Specifically, we looked at his save percentage. That is, how many shots were on target against Spain in all the matches at the two tournaments and what proportion of them were saved by De Gea. That gives us a rough idea of how many shots could have been goals if it weren’t for the intervention of the goalkeeper and so gives us some measure of the quality of De Gea.

The stats show us that De Gea saved 10 out of 14 shots on target during Euro 2016 for a save percentage of 71%. Compared to that, in this World Cup, he has saved only one out of six shots on target for a save percentage of 17 %.

His first save during the tournament actually came in the match against Morocco! Hopefully, De Gea will be able to raise his game for the rest of the tournament and show us that these group games are just a blip.

First Published: Jun 26, 2018 18:38 IST

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