“Football is a simple game,” Gary Lineker once said.
“Twenty-two men chase a ball for 90 minutes and, at the end, the Germans always win,” added the Match Of The Day presenter.
So when a new penalty shootout system was used for the first time in a competitive game on Thursday, it was perhaps unsurprising that it was a Germany side who came out on top.
European football’s governing body, Uefa, is evaluating a new ‘ABBA’ penalty shootout system – rather than the traditional ABAB pattern, where one side always has the pressure of going second – to make them fairer.
It is trialling its use at both men’s and women’s European Under-17s tournaments currently taking place.
And it was at the women’s competition – a semi-final between Germany and Norway on Thursday – that the chance to put it into use for the first time arose.
The Germans are famed for their penalty-spot prowess after winning five shootouts at major finals – although unusually they missed their first three spot-kicks.
Yet they were still able to beat Norway 3-2 to reach the final of the tournament in the Czech Republic.
The men’s tournament in Croatia has not yet reached the knockout stage.
— UEFA Women’s EURO (@UEFAWomensEURO) May 11, 2017
How does it work?
As the current system stands, teams take turns in a shootout, with the choice of who goes first decided by a coin toss.
For example, team A goes first, then team B, then team A again.
The new system is called sees team A followed by team B – before team B goes again. Team A would then get two successive penalties, a little like the tie-break in tennis, and so on until there is a winner.
A coin will still be tossed to decide who goes first.
Why is a change needed?
The idea is to stop the team going second having to always, potentially, play catch-up. The sport’s rule-making body, Ifab, approved the trial after looking at the research that says the team taking the first penalty have an unfair advantage as they win 60% of shootouts.
“The hypothesis is that the player taking the second kick in the pair is under greater mental pressure,” said Uefa.
Culled from BBC Sport