Football

Is the penalty shootout in danger?

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Schweinsteiger missed his spot-kick against Chelsea. (©GettyImages)
Schweinsteiger missed his spot-kick against Chelsea. (©GettyImages).

If there was ever evidence required of how cruel a penalty shootout can be, then Chelsea's victory against Bayern Munich last Saturday highlights the relative tragedy of deciding an encounter mano-a-mano.

Bayern had dominated proceedings for nigh on 120 minutes, registering 35 shots on Petr Cech's goal, winning 20 corner kicks and retaining the ball for 60 percent of the duration.

Some will point towards Bayern's inability to be clinical in front of goal as the reason for their eventual downfall; failing to capitalise on their supremacy against a side there for the taking.

This is, of course, correct, but there is no escaping the fact that a penalty shootout fails to reward the endeavours of the dominant team. But, then again, that is football.

Bayern's players were already doubled up in anguish before Didier Drogba stepped up to convert the decisive penalty at the Allianz Arena, while many collapsed, utterly distraught, after the Ivorian sent Manuel Neuer the wrong way.

Bastian Schweinsteiger cut a particularly desolate figure, covering his face with his shirt in order to remove himself from the glare of the Bayern faithful following his personal failure from the spot.

The midfielder had been the hero only a few weeks earlier, when he netted from 12 yards to upset Real Madrid at the Santiago Bernabeu and provide Bayern with a shot at European glory.

Germans are supposed to be the kings of penalty shootouts, but Schweinsteiger proved even they can suffer the lowest of lows after riding high from previous successes.

Yet the fate of penalty shootouts could be placed in the hands of the most famous of Germans, after Fifa president Sepp Blatter suggested Franz Beckenbauer may be able to rid the game of spot-kick lotteries for good.

Beckenbauer is head of the Football Task Force 2014, a group conceived to recommend potential rule changes, and Blatter has seemingly urged the German legend to propose a possible alternative to the penalty shootout.

"Football can be a tragedy when you go to penalty kicks," Blatter said, as reported by BBC Sport.

"Football should not go to one to one. When it goes to penalty kicks football loses its essence."

He added: "Perhaps Franz Beckenbauer with his football 2014 group can show us a solution, perhaps not today but in the future."

Blatter has since moved to clarify his comments on Twitter, by stating that a penalty shootout remains 'part of the Laws and I don't want to do away with them'.

However, the Swiss maintained that the current format to decide matches level is unfair, particularly because it is not 'decided 11 v 11' but rather one against one.

Whether or not there are any realistic alternatives to a penalty shootout remains to be seen, but Blatter's comments suggest it could be in danger in the future, should Beckenbauer and his team suggest anything particularly feasible.

GMF have previously imagined some alternatives, with suggestions including the continuation of a match until a conclusion is reached, or an American style shootout at the end of proceedings.

For sheer drama, there is little to rival a penalty shootout in sport, but perhaps it will be soon consigned to the annals of football history. But, would you miss it?

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