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My top six penalty misses

David ClarkeIt’ll sson be Euro 2012 in Poland and the Ukraine and that usually heralds a whole load of penalties – here’s my six top penalty misses in all competitions.

John Terry, CHELSEA v Manchester Utd (Champions League Final 2008)

After a 1-1 draw on the night, Cristiano Ronaldo missed his spot-kick to put Chelsea within touching distance of the trophy, but his crucial slip sent the ball crashing against the outside of the post, leaving the England international on the floor and in tears.

Lionel Messi, BARCELONA v Chelsea (Champions League Semi-Final 20120)

Barcelona started the second half 2-1 up but Chelsea were down to 10 men. Messi had the chance to gain the psychological advantage but hit the bar and Chelsea went on win the game.

Denis Bergkamp, ARSENAL v Manchester Utd (FA Cup Semi-Final replay 1999)

Bergkamp could have won the game with a last minute penalty. The match was notable for a disallowed Arsenal goal, the sending-off of Manchester Utd’s Roy Keane for a second bookable offence, a last-minute penalty save by Peter Schmeichel, and finally and most memorably a winning goal by Ryan Giggs, intercepting a pass near the half way line, before taking the ball past five Arsenal defenders and scoring past goalkeeper David Seaman.

Ruud van Nistelrooy MANCHESTER UNITED v Arsenal (Premier League 2003/04)

With the scores level at 0-0, United were given a controversial penalty in injury-time after Patrick Vieira had earlier seen red for a kick-out at Van Nistelrooy, but the Dutch striker made it three consecutive misses from the spot after he rattled the underside of the crossbar.

Gareth Southgate, ENGLAND v Germany (Semi-Final Euro’ 96)

After Stuart Pearce and Chris Waddle failed at Italia ’90, it fell to Southgate to end the hopes of the Three Lions on home soil six years later, as football ‘came home’ but then swiftly left for Germany on penalties.

Roberto Baggio, Brazil v ITALY (World Cup Final 1994)

The first World Cup final to be decided on penalties, it was a moment that would define Baggio’s career despite some of the great things he achieved for both club and country.



Where’s Carlos Alberto when you need him?
June 26, 2010, 4:39 pm
Filed under: Dave Clarke, Soccer Skills | Tags: , , , , ,

Watching Brazil play Portugal I turned off and watched this clip of Carlos Alberto talking about his goal at the 1970 World Cup against Italy.

There was some fantastic football from Brazil and this wonderful goal:



The best goal celebrations
June 14, 2010, 11:22 am
Filed under: Dave Clarke, Soccer Coaching, Soccer Skills | Tags: , , , ,

Goal celebrations are one of the fun elements in the serious business of any World Cup. I can see when my players have been watching the games on TV because they suddenly have new very eleborate goal celebrations and the rest of the team tend to join in.

I like goal celebrations as long as they don’t show any disrespect to the opponents. In fact I have a theory that the best goal scorers have the best celebrations _ in other words don’t do the Peter Crouch robot.

The World Cup final usually has a great goal celebration, but the one that always stands out for me is Marco Tardelli – for Italy against West Germany in 1982

When my teams score a goal I want them to celebrate it like this – but my young players like something a bit more gimmicky.

There were no gimmicks for Tardelli when he put Italy 2-0 up against the Germans, just a show of pure, unadulterated joy. Typically Italian, very classy.

My players prefer ones like the South African team at this year’s tournament when Siphiwe Tshabalala fired the World Cup hosts ahead ten minutes after half-time against Mexico.



The best defenders block the ball

One of the problems for defenders is that when they are closing down players a clever attacker can break away with the ball into goal scoring positions. The best defenders will stay with the attacker and get a block on the shot or a last second tackle to poke the ball away.

This situation is quite likely in youth soccer when young players lose concentration at the back and an attacker gets free with the ball. Rather than stand and watch the drama unfold they should be running to get back and cover the attacking player.

There will always be opportunities for a defender to recover when they have made a mistake or the attacker has worked their way free from the covering defence.

As coach you should be encouraging your players never to give up when they have lost the ball and work hard to win it back and stop the opposition scoring.

Check out the clips below of two of the world’s best attackers making last ditch tackles and blocks to save their team losing a goal – Alessandro Nesta of Italy and Carles Puyol of Spain show how giving up just isn’t in their vocabulary.

Soccer drill to coach the block tackle



You’ve got to see this – FIFA Futsal World Cup

The 2008 FIFA Futsal World Cup in Brazil is compulsive viewing – I can’t drag myself away from the highlights that have been on Sky all day.

You should watch it and try and get your players to watch it too. Tell them it’s a bit like PlayStation 3 soccer matches – the matches run until October 19th the date of the final.

If you’ve never seen futsal before let me assure you it’s very exciting. It’s basically five a side football, on a small, hard-surface court with a smaller, heavier ball that has a very low bounce and there are kick-ins instead of throw-ins. It is such a fast, skilful game that I’m sure it will gain hugely in popularity.

The big name to watch at the 2008 tournament is Brazil’s legendary Falcao. He’s widely recognized as the best futsal player in the world, but has yet to win the Futsal World Cup.

Spain however has been setting the tournament alight so watch out for them. The skills on display are outstanding and there are some great goals. If I could have youth soccer look like anything on a Saturday morning it would be this.

You can watch it live on the FIFA website or see highlights on Sky.

The teams involved include: USA, Italy, Brazil, Russia, Spain, Argentina, Portugal, China, and the Czech Republic so there’s a lot of traditional soccer countries there.

Take a look for youself with this clip:



How to take penalties

I wrote an article last week for Better Soccer Coaching about how to turn penalty shoot-outs in your favour by teaching your goalkeeper how to read them. During my research for it I came across Francesco Totti practising his penalties during a Roma training session.

 If only he’d been at Euro 2008…



The best and the worst (so far)

We’re almost at the half way point of Euro 2008 and as my good friend Sian would say, I’m loving it. Time then for a quick half-way-stage pub-list.

Match of the tournament (so far)

Got to be Turkey 3 Czech Republic 2 for sheer drama, and for Petr Cech dropping a clanger right on the toe of Turkish player Nihat to score the equaliser.

Other candidates include Croatia 2 Germany 1 for the Croats spirit, Slaven Bilic entertaining us all from the touchline, and for the guilty schadenfreude of any German defeat (with apologies to our German readers).

Team of the tournament (so far)

The Netherlands – might have been tempted to protect their early leads against the mighty Italy and France, but where’s the fun in that?

Players of the tournament (so far)

In no particular order:

Deco, Portugal – he has it all – he can pass anywhere, he has great vision, he can tackle, he can dribble, he can score, and he runs the games he plays in. However, it will be interesting to see how he and Portugal cope with tougher midfield opponents against Germany in the quarter-final.

Andrea Pirlo, Italy – has many of the same attributes as Deco. If he had a better striker to aim for than Luca Toni, Italy might not have made such heavy weather of their first two games.

David Villa, Spain – you get the feeling he won’t miss if he gets half a chance. Along with the god-like genius of Fernando Torres, the best strike partnership in the world at the moment.

Wayne Rooney – only joking, couldn’t resist.

Most irritating player (so far)

Cristiano Ronaldo – just because.

Referee of the tournament (so far)

Howard Webb, for taking a stand against outright cheating and awarding a penalty to Austria for holding in the penalty area in their match against Poland. At last someone has the guts to uphold the laws of the game.

Worst prediction of the tournament

Dwyer Scullion, predicting that Italy couldn’t win the tournament with their style of play. Since then, they’ve had countless shots and headers on target and if they had a more potent striker than Toni, they might well have scored more goals than the Dutch by now.

Feel free to agree, contradict, ridicule etc. I’ll have another stab at this completely futile exercise after the final.

Dwyer Scullion, Publisher, Better Soccer Coaching




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