WE HAVE had some ponderous run-ups to penalties in this tournament. See Lewandowski, several Japanese players, et al.
Just how mazy can a run-up be though?
With a free kick you are obviously restricted from too long a run-up (say from halfway) as you might have to dodge around opposing players or get tired. But no opposing player can encroach in the box for a spot-kick. There is a slight chance you might get booked for time-wasting but if you wanted to bamboozle the keeper in an original way, you could run to one corner of the box, over to the other and then loop your run back towards the spot. Are you making life harder for yourself rather than the keeper by doing this? Maybe. But score and you’ve probably joined Antonin Panenka in getting a penalty named after yourself.
We’ve had one shootout at this tournament, with nine games left to play. It is 9/4 there will be two or fewer shootouts in Qatar, and 1/3 on three or more (each of the last seven winners of penalties at World Cups have shot second, by the way).
Do shootouts make teams take fewer risks in general play? Well, in the knockout phases between 1954 and 1970 when there were no shootouts there was not one draw in 40 games.
WILL we avert our gaze from the Middle East for a moment?
There is golf in South Africa this weekend, but most interest will be in The Match, a showdown format pioneered by the Liv departed Phil Mickelson a few years back.
Rory McIlroy will team up with Tiger Woods to take on Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas in a special charity contest next Saturday evening.
It will take place under lights at the Pelican Golf Club in Florida, with the 12-hole floodlit event raising money for Hurricane relief efforts.
Spieth and Thomas (4/5) are familiar partners, but I think McIlroy will relish playing with Woods (who pulled out of the Hero World Challenge last week) and they’ll win at evens.
I WILL take Morocco to go through on penalties at 12/1 and Portugal to win in extra time at 15/2.
The bets haven’t been going so well so probably best not to double that one up.
If you have any recent betting successes to share or advice, don’t hesitate to send them on to: robert.oshea@the echo.ie