Alphonso Davies’ essential penalty miss was maybe Canada’s most vital second on the World Cup

Belgium goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois saves a penalty kick from Canada’s Alphonso Davies throughout the World Cup Group F match on the Ahmad bin Ali Stadium, in Al Rayyan, Qatar, on November 23.Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press

When Canada was awarded a penalty kick early of their recreation towards Belgium, there have been no pointers as to who ought to take it. Coach John Herdman leaves that call to his gamers.

Staff captain Atiba Hutchinson appeared on the two potential candidates, winger Alphonso Davies and striker Jonathan David, seeing it between them.

“I do not suppose it was a debate,” Hutchinson stated Thursday. “It was extra, ‘Are you okay to take it?’ Fonzie had the ball in his hand. He was clearly prepared for that second.”

Possibly “prepared” is a greater phrase than “prepared.”

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When given the prospect, Davies hit the ball previous Belgian goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois. It was extra of a hitter-ball than interceptor-ball difficulty.

An excellent penalty is hit laborious and geared toward every publish. An ideal penalty can also be hit excessive.

Davies’ shot was low, mid-range and never significantly properly struck. All Courtois needed to do was guess proper, and he did.

Relying on how this match goes for Canada, that may very well be crucial second.

Was the fitting determination made?

David is the extra skilled penalty taker. He has sunk 9 of the 12 taken in his profession. That 75-percent conversion ratio is nice.

(Cristiano Ronaldo, the acknowledged grasp of the artwork, has made 145 and missed 29. That is an 83 p.c success fee.)

Earlier than yesterday, Davies had – and has – taken two penalties, each for Canada, in his top-flight profession.

So inexperience gained out (working theme for Canada towards Belgium).

We requested Matt Miller-Dicks, a well being and train scientist on the College of Portsmouth, to provide his views. Miller-Dicks has accomplished scholarly analysis on soccer penalties.

“Alphonso Davies’ penalty evaluation is closely depending on how he has been taking penalty kicks,” Miller-Dicks stated in an electronic mail.

That is laborious to know as a result of Davies hasn’t spoken publicly since shedding that shot. Maybe he had been utilizing punishments with a brand new consideration. Possibly not. And in that case, who can say what technique he used, or underneath what situations?

He additionally took the identical line Herdman did after the sport – revealing the opposite half of the penalty equation.

“The truth that the most effective goalkeepers on the planet – Thibaut Courtois – saved the penalty, you may say that he was a superb goalkeeper.


Miller-Dicks noticed one space for enchancment – Davies’ strategy to the ball. The Canadian ran straight at him.

“There did not seem like any apparent try and attempt to deceive the path of the kick. Analysis exhibits that it’s harder for the goalkeeper to anticipate the path of a kick if the penalty taker is utilizing deception.”

This will embrace altering the angle of the physique or introducing a stutter step. Good penalty takers are in a position to comply with one technique and hearth one other. Davies did none of that. Courtois was already heading to the fitting earlier than Davies turned the ball that means, suggesting he had let his shot free.

“If the technique/strategy has been profitable for him previously, you do not suggest that he change,” Miller-Dicks stated.

That is the factor – Davies does not actually have a historical past of taking penalties. There may be nothing he ought to or shouldn’t proceed to do.

If Hutchinson’s studying of the state of affairs is appropriate, Canada’s finest participant seems to be working a marketing campaign primarily based on emotion alone.

If Davies had accomplished it, we’d be speaking about how good his searching was.

As an alternative, we’re left questioning if he would have been higher off surrendering the second to a extra skilled participant.

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