Thu, Jun 28, 2012 - Page 19 News List

EURO 2012: No point practicing penalties, Germany coach Kopke says

AFP, GDANSK, POLAND

Ahead of today’s Euro 2012 semi-final against Italy, goalkeeping coach Andreas Kopke said Germany would not be taking too many spot-kicks to prepare for a dreaded penalty shootout.

After Italy needed a penalty shootout to beat England in their quarter-final, Kopke insisted that Germany will not become spot-kick obsessed.

Although there is a clear argument for preparing players to deal with the nerve-shredding tension of the dreaded shootout, Kopke insisted it is impossible to replicate the same fraught environment exhausted players face.

“It is nearly impossible to ‘practice’ penalty shootouts in training, it doesn’t yield much in terms of results, because you can’t really simulate the psychological pressure goalkeepers and players will be under,” Kopke said. “The players just whack it in when it comes to training and you can’t really recreate that pressure, so it makes little sense to practice penalties. As far as I am concerned, I hated [penalties] when I was a player. Sometimes you have to lure the goalkeeper the other way, or wait until the last possible moment for him to have moved before you kick.”

Kopke did reveal Germany’s goalkeeper Manuel Neuer will be fully briefed about what to expect against Italy should today’s game come down to penalties and Germany will have done their homework.

By the same token, Germany’s goalkeeping staff will know, and have passed on to their players, all of the habits and preferences Italy goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon favors between the posts.

After Italy’s 33-year-old man-of-the-match Andrea Pirlo converted their second spot-kick with an audacious chip past England goalkeeper Joe Hart on Sunday, Kopke said the cheeky chip showed the Italy midfielder’s class.

“Taking the penalty like that was cheeky, especially with Italy 2-1 down, and if that hadn’t gone in, they would probably have gone out,” Kopke said. “As a ’keeper, you don’t really reckon that someone would dare take a penalty in that fashion. Pirlo had a very good match, he really took control of the game, especially when the English were beaten by their own fatigue. Germany are a fairly young team, but with experience, and we hope the game won’t be decided by penalties, we want to get to the final before all that.”

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