The expression on referee Viktor Kassai’s face said it all.
Bastian Schweinsteiger won the coin toss ahead of the penalty shootout between Italy and Germany on Saturday but raised eyebrows by opting to take the spot-kicks in front of the Italian fans.
Kassai did a double-take to ensure he hadn’t misheard Schweinsteiger, but the veteran German midfielder has now explained why he made his unusual decision.
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“I remembered the shootout in Munich (Bayern’s Champions League final defeat to Chelsea), when we did it at our stand.
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“Then I remembered the shootout in Madrid (when Bayern won on penalties in the Champions League semi-finals), where we did it in front of the Madrid stand.
“The first penalty shootout of this Euro was won by Poland, who chose to do it in front of the swiss stand. So I thought, let’s shoot at the Italian side, and give the Italian fans something to be happy about.”
Video: Schweinsteiger surprises Kassai
Schweinsteiger's decision paid off
It proved an inspired decision by Schweinsteiger. Germany won the penalty shootout 6-5, despite the fact Schweinsteiger himself failed to convert from the spot, along with Thomas Muller and Mesut Ozil.
Italy’s players - namely Simone Zaza, Graziano Pelle, Leonardo Bonucci and Matteo Darmian - buckled under the pressure and Germany subsequently booked their place in the semi-finals.
Joachim Low impressed with youngsters' composure
Joachim Low, Germany’s head coach, said he was impressed with the cool manner in which the squad’s younger players conducted themselves in the penalty shootout.
"I had no real influence on the penalty-takers," Low was quoted as saying by Sky Sports. "Every player has to make that decision for himself then.
"Our takers, one to five, were found quickly. Usually, we have good penalty-takers, even though they have not scored today.
"It was great that the youngsters like (Joshua) Kimmich and Hector kept their nerves on such a stage.
"It was a dramatic game, right up until the last shot. I have experienced something similar in 2006 in the World Cup against Argentina."
Is it an advantage or a hindrance for players to take penalties in front of their own fans? Have your say by leaving a comment below.
[Bild quotes translated by Squakwa]
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