2010 FIFA World Cup : Is England Ready For a Penalty During the Finals?
With England's 2010 World Cup campaign kicking off in just under a fortnight's time, against the USA in Rustenburg, their penalty taking ghosts have come back to haunt them once again.
In a pretty insipid performance against fellow World Cup qualifiers Japan in Graz Austria, England's World Cup penalty questions reared their ugly head yet again.
Putting to one side the dreaded penalty shoot out, is England ready for a penalty during the Finals?
A blatant handball from the Japanese wall awarded England their latest spot kick. England's Mr. Reliable, Chelsea's Frank Lampard, stepped up from twelve yards. However, Lampard's last penalty was in the FA Cup final.
The Chelsea midfielder normally goes low to the right or left of the goalkeeper and has also dispatched his fair share down the center.
This time around, his run up didn't have its usual confident strut. Although firmly struck, the Japanese goalkeeper dived to his right to make the save. And Lampard had missed twice in succession.
When asked in a post match interview whether he would be up for taking a penalty at the World Cup finals, Lampard gave an unconvincing response. He told us that would be up to the manager.
His manager stated that Lampard would indeed be taking England's next penalty and that he will still be England's designated spot kick taker at the World Cup.
But is Capello making the right decision?
What are his other options for England when it comes to penalty takers during normal and extra time?
Steven Gerrard is a possibility. He is the regular man from twelve yards for his club Liverpool, and has a solid record. Gerrard also has the right mentality, temperament, and experience to handle the pressure.
Gerrard, prefers to place the ball low to either side of the goalkeeper. It is rare that he powers a spot kick straight down the middle of the goal.
Wayne Rooney is also a strong contender. He has a good record for Manchester United. However, Rooney has suffered several nightmares from the spot. But, once again, if given the responsibility, Rooney would not shy away.
The Manchester United strikers also tends to favor low drives to one side of the goalkeeper.
Gareth Barry is arguably the best penalty taker on Capello's squad. His trusty left foot has sent penalty kicks past many a top class goalkeeper.
During his days at Aston Villa, Barry was the team's designated man for the pressure kicks. But since moving to Manchester City, he has sadly dropped down the pecking order.
Barry has the advantage over Lampard, Gerrard and Rooney. Barry can, and has done on so many occasions, place a penalty into one of the top corners, where it is most difficult (if near impossible) for a goalkeeper to make the save.
One of the other "go-to men" for Capello could be James Milner. At Aston Villa, Milner has the responsibility to convert from twelve yards. He rarely misses.
Once again, Milner can hit the top corners. More often than not, those are his preferred spots.
If England is awarded a penalty during the World Cup, Lampard will likely take the kick. And it's natural that, no matter how hard he tries, the last misses will creep into his mind.
To avoid a miss far more costly than today's mishap, Capello should nominate a new penalty taker for the World Cup.
Lampard can take over again once. He has knocked in a few for Chelsea and gotten back into the groove.
If Capello decides to pass that responsibility on to another of his players, he'll have some very capable candidates to choose from.
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