5 Golden Rules for Scoring Penalties at the World Cup Next Summer
The penalty shot is one of the most dramatic and bloodcurdling moments that can occur during a football match.
Rarely do the stakes get higher in world football than during a World Cup Finals. So to be one of those chosen to take a penalty kick at FIFA's most prestigious tournament is to be a player, hopefully, employed with ice cold veins.
There have been heroics and failures throughout the history of penalties during the World Cup. Of course, there is no one answer on how to ensure finding the back of the net from the spot.
That said, using a bit of history as a guide, here are five golden rules for scoring penalties in Brazil 2014.
Cristiano Ronaldo was only 21 when he stepped up to the spot against England in the World Cup in Germany.
The stakes were massive for the young winger: A chance to send his country to the semi-final of the World Cup with one kick of the ball.
Despite the gravity of the moment, Ronaldo remained calm, took a breath before the whistle to steady himself and placed his shot perfectly in the side of the net with the inside of his foot.
Anyone tasked with taking a penalty in Brazil, especially younger players, should look to replicate Ronaldo's collected approach.
Be Creative (But Be Sure to Score)
Zinedine Zidane put France up 1-0 in the World Cup Final against Italy in 2006 in Germany.
It does not get much bolder than deftly chipping the goalkeeper off the crossbar and over the line. That, though, is exactly what Zidane did to Gianluigi Buffon.
This is the sort of play which helped solidify the Frenchman's legacy and showed off just how special of a player he his, not many footballers have the moxie to both try and pull off such a maneuver.
It is a good thing that he scored, otherwise it would have been a massively arrogant mistake.
Use the Woodwork (Sparingly)
Landon Donovan proved that the woodwork can be an ally when taking a penalty in the World Cup.
The American stepped to the spot with an opportunity to draw the U.S. level with Ghana in the round of 16 in the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.
Donovan played a risky game, side-footing the ball off the right post and into the back of the net.
An inch or two to the right and he could have missed entirely; but placed perfectly like Donovan's above, and the shot is nearly impossible to save.
Penalty-takers next year in Brazil can certainly embrace the post but must tread lightly in doing so.
Avoid Penalties Against Germany at All Costs
Jens Lehmann's penalty kick performance against Argentina helped send Germany to the semi-finals of the 2006 World Cup.
It turned out after the match that Lehmann was extremely well prepared to take on the Argentinians from the spot.
The German had notes on the tendencies of all the Argentine penalty-takers, which helped him make a massive save to send Germany through.
Anyone facing Germany in the knockout stages in Brazil 2014 must do their best to avoid a penalty kick shootout.
Don't Miss over the Bar!
Roberto Baggio was excellent throughout the 1994 World Cup Finals in the United States.
His biggest mistake, though, will live on forever in the hearts and minds of anyone who watched the World Cup Finals that year.
Baggio missed way high on his attempt in the penalty kick shootout, subsequently crowning Brazil World Cup champions and forcing Italy to leave the U.S. with a second-place trophy.
Simple enough rule: Put the penalty on target. More importantly, do not miss over the crossbar!