Definition of Penalty Shootout

Penalty shootouts are one of the most nerve-wracking parts of association football. Two teams have fought each other for upwards of 120 minutes. Now it's down to who can keep a cool head and slot their penalty home - over and over again.

What is the meaning of the Penalty Shootout in the game of soccer / football?  Illustration.It can be described as so: teams that remain tied after extra time in certain competitions (often cups or cup qualifiers) must stand at the middle of the field. Then a player walks up, faces the opposing goalkeeper and takes a penalty. Then the other team does the same. This process repeats until one team has scored enough goals that the opposing team cannot possibly catch up with their remaining kicks.

There are a number of famous penalty shootouts that have occurred, both at the international level and club level. Brazil won the 1994 World Cup on penalties, beating Italy 3-2. Similarly, Italy won the 2006 World Cup final in a penalty shootout against France. England in particular are poor at penalty shootouts, having lost 6 out of the 9 shootouts in major tournaments.

However, English clubs have done better at the European stage with their penalties. Liverpool beat AC Milan in the Champions League in 2005 on penalties, while Chelsea beat Bayern Munich in 2012 in a similar manner.

The penalty shootout method has been criticised for a couple of reasons. First, there appears to be a statistical advantage to the team who shoots first. There have been attempts to rectify this in recent times by changing the pattern. It is also seen as more "luck-based" and thus not a fair reflection of the match. Regardless, it is still used as the standard to decide between two teams in cups finals and it doesn't seem likely to change anytime soon.