As Manchester City‘s Sergio Aguero has recently learned to his cost, the “Panenka” penalty is a curious discipline, with the heavily unstable ratio between risk, reward and ridicule barely making them worth anybody’s while.

If you’re thinking, what is it? Then the man himself can explain. Antonin Panenka, the Czechoslovakia player who famously introduced the world to the Panenka chip at the Euros in 1976 told ESPN’s Gab Marcotti back in 2016: “I started my run-up at a slight angle from the left, to make the keeper think I was going to kick the ball right, so to the keeper’s left. With a run-up like that, 90% of penalties go right so the keeper has to dive, and all I did was chip it gently down the middle.”

Basically, it’s football’s answer to getting punked. And it can turn out worse than you can imagine, especially if the Premier League title is on the line.

If you must attempt them under immense pressure, we strongly recommend you read through our cautionary (though not entirely foolproof) guide. After all, there is only one Sergio Ramos.

1. Don’t forget to hit the target

This really should be considered the absolute basic requirement for all penalty takers, but especially if you are going for the chipped finish.

2. Don’t get distracted

The wily goalkeeper might try to distract you with all manner of exotic dances and rythmic gyrations (at 00:30). Stay focused.

3. Don’t make it too obvious

Try not to make the fact that you’re preparing to try a Panenka glaringly obvious to everybody in the stadium from the moment you start your run-up.

4. Don’t overdo it on the backspin

Remember to strike the ball with enough power to actually reach the goal line.

5. Don’t fall over

It’s crucial that you remain in an upright position while executing your Panenka. Failure to do so could be disastrous.

6. Don’t be a goalkeeper

Under no circumstances should anyone wearing big gloves attempt to score a Panenka. Nothing good can ever come of it (at 1:00 mark).

7. Don’t attempt one when Ibra is watching you

Perhaps most important of all, don’t make the mistake of attempting a Panenka while Zlatan Ibrahimovic is peering menacingly over your shoulder.

PANENKA ON TOP 3 WORST PANENKAS

1. Cristiano Ronaldo: Real Madrid vs. Copenhagen, Dec. 11, 2013

“He makes no attempt to deceive the keeper, not with his eyes, not with his body language. And he hits the ball way too hard.”

2. Neymar: Santos vs. Vitoria, Copa do Brasil final, July 27, 2010

“His run up is too straight, run down the middle. Plus, he didn’t show the goalkeeper to a side at all. This is awful.

3. Andrea Pirlo, AC Milan vs. Barcelona, Gamper Trophy, Aug 25, 2010

“I don’t think he practiced this before. His run up is too short, I think he didn’t take this too seriously. … I’m glad he learned though and got it right a few years later.”

PANENKA ON TOP 3 BEST PANENKAS

1. Sebastian Abreu, Uruguay vs. Ghana, World Cup, Jul. 2, 2010

“He kicked it really well — he had a long run-up and it’s important that he paused his foot while kicking. That is exactly it: I run pretty aggressively, fast, and in the last moment I pause my leg a bit. I hold my nerves longer than the goalkeeper. Plus, it makes the kick slow and helps you chip the ball better.

2. Juan Roman Riquelme, Mexico vs. Argentina, Copa America, Jul. 12, 2007

“The goalkeeper tried to make him nervous, that is very unpleasant. This is all about the run-up. It’s perfect and makes up to the fact that maybe the ball flew too straight. He really had the keeper fooled.”

3. Andrea Pirlo, Italy vs. England, European Championships, Jun. 24, 2012

“He obviously learned his lesson from his other one. Concentrated, very slow run up, I would have been faster, but very well taken.”



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