Theo would be spot on for England

We are part of The Trust Project What is it?

Should England do what some sections of the media seem certain they will do, and lose to Germany on penalties this afternoon, it won't be because the weight of history weighed heavily on the players' shoulders, or that the Germans cope better in high pressure situations.

No, it'll be because Fabio Capello didn't pick 21-year-old right-footed forward Theo Walcott in his 23-man squad.

At least that's what research undertaken by Lucozade Sport, with the help of the football analysts at Prozone, suggests.

They have analysed every penalty shoot out the 1998, 2002 and 2006 World Cups and the 2000, 2004 and 2008 European Championships to determine which players are successful from the spot and why.

That’s a total of 14 penalty shoot outs and 130 penalty kicks - 16 of which were taken by England, seven unsuccessfully so.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, given the high pressure involved, when a team is losing a shootout the likelihood of a successful penalty drops by approximately 18%.

That perhaps explains why the team who miss first generally go on to lose the shoot-out - 78.5% of the time, in fact.

Case in point would be England's last three shoot-out defeats. In all three the opposition (Argentina in 1998 and Portugal in 2004 and 2006) missed one of their penalties, but only after our brave boys had botched one first.

As you'd also expect, forwards are the most successful in shoot outs, scoring 75% of the penalties taken. But it's the defenders who follow in second, with a 72% success rate, with midfielders surprisingly bringing up the rear with 61%, despite taking half of those 130 kicks.

The research highlights 21 as being the optimum age for taking a penalty in a shoot-out - with players of that age converting 91% of spot-kicks taken.

Worryingly from England's point of view, Fabio Capello's squad has a grand total of zero 21-year-olds, whereas the Germany squad currently features four - Mesut Ozil, Holger Badstuber, Jerome Boateng and Marko Marin.

Although the statistics suggest England's lack of youth may be a hindrance, their lack of left-footers may prove a blessing.

A higher success rate is seen for right footed penalties (71%) than those taken with the left foot (52%) - so it might be worth telling Gareth Barry and Ashley Cole to make themselves comfortable on the halfway line if the teams can't be separated after 120 minutes.

Almost 87% of penalties aimed in the top left corner of the goal (see above) - the natural side for a right-footed to aim for - are successful. This is more than any other area of the goal - just don't tell Manuel Neuer.

A higher success rate is seen when the kick is taken with the inside of the boot (70%) than with the laces (62%) or the outside of the boot (50%). Although to be honest if you're going to try and be a clever dick in a World Cup shoot-out you deserve to miss.

To continue the debate visit

More World Cup stuff: Features * Lists * Interviews Features * News * Interviews * Home
Interact: Twitter * Facebook * Forum