Expect the beast that is penalties to bear its lethal fangs in quarters
To some, World Cup penalty shootouts are as dramatic as anything Shakespeare could scribe, combining tragedy with wicked comedy while infusing a sense of history-making.
Bettors should address the matter with a clearer head, though, and realise patterns in order to profit. In a World Cup Specials market it’s a 1/2 shot for 2-3 instances of spot-kicks to occur.
The first World Cup dead-ball duel was contested at the end of the 1982 semi-final between West Germany and France – no prizes for guessing who progressed there. Since then there have been 19 World Cup shootouts at completed tournaments – an average of just over three per event.
With one spot-kick decider already needed in South Africa and with 14 games between evenly-matched sides remaining, that average could well be surpassed. It’s 7/2 for 4-5 shootouts to take place.
Indeed, we are heading into the round which has historically been the one requiring more efforts from 12 yards than any other. There have been eight shoot-outs at the quarter-final stage since 1982 – with at least one at every tournament – and there could be an argument made for each encounter here to go to all the way.
Argentina and Germany played one out at this stage four years ago, with the customary Deutsch victory, and it seems likely a score draw between two attack-minded teams could see spot-kicks required again.
That loss four years ago was Argentina’s first in four World Cup shootouts, while Germany have won five and lost one in all competitions. They are both 10/1 shots to win on penalties.
Spain have been involved in three World Cup shootouts before, with two in successive rounds at the 2002 tournament. The pre-tournament favourites have so far struggled to get going properly, reflected in single-goal wins and a loss to Switzerland. Their opponents Paraguay have drawn three out of four games and have already gone the distance with Japan in the last round.
A stifling 0-0 draw could again be on the cards (8/1) with penalties between these two being a real lottery; Spain (12/1) have won half of their six so far, while Paraguay’s (12/1) only win in three came by beating Japan.
If Brazil v Holland went to penalties it would be a repeat of their 1998 semi-final shootout, which Brazil won.
The five-time champions (10/1) have won five of their eight spot-kick battles, while the Oranjes (11/1) have a pitiful record of one victory in five.
Ghana and Uruguay could also go the full distance, with both potentially tightening up as the sight of a history-making semi-final comes into view. Ghana went to extra-time in the last round and with both having drawn group stage matches a deadlock seems probable.
Each has a 50 per cent shootout success rate, with the Africans (10/1 to win on penalties) having won one and lost one, while the South Americans (also 10/1) have won three and lost three.