FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022: Goalkeepers make their mark in penalty shootouts at Qatar World Cup

As two of the eight pre-quarterfinals and two quarterfinals were decided on penalties, goalkeepers have been the center of attention and the ultimate heroes. Dominik Livakovic has been instrumental in Croatia reaching the World Cup semifinals for the second time in a row, with opponents scoring only three times from eight spot-kick attempts in the round-of-16 win over Japan and the knockout of Brazil in the last eight.

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FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022

Dominik is a fantastic goalkeeper who is in fantastic shape. Against Brazil, he was the difference. He was there to save us,” coach Zlatko Dalic said of Livakovic, the only player in Croatia’s starting XI who has played in the country’s domestic league. Goalkeepers in Qatar 2022 have saved 13 of the 32 penalties in shootouts. The number was 13 out of 39 from the four knockout games in Russia that went to shootouts. In Qatar, five of the 12 penalties awarded during regulation and extra time were saved, whereas, in Russia, 29 penalties were awarded in 64 matches, with seven either saved or missed. Pascal Zuberbuhler, a former Swiss No. 1 and fellow FIFA Technical Study Group member of Faryd Mondragon, believes the figures are astounding given that goalkeepers these days must keep one foot on the line until a penalty is taken.

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The majority of goals have been saved a meter or so from the goal line. A goalkeeper must keep one foot on the line at all times, and despite this disadvantage, they have performed admirably. This was possible due to their timing and explosiveness,” he explained. The head of the FIFA group, German World Cup winner Jurgen Klinsmann, believes the delays experienced by penalty takers due to VAR checks may have harmed the strikers.

Also Read: Croatia stun five-time world champions Brazil in the dramatic penalty shootout win (4-2 on pens)

The double-checking by VAR takes a bit of time and you can overthink because of the time you have from the penalty being awarded and the actual shot being taken. “I am a big fan of Harry Kane, and maybe if he had just come and shot it would have been different,” Klinsmann said of England captain Harry Kane’s missed penalty kick in England’s 2-1 quarterfinal loss to France.

Also Read: France vs Argentina – Leading stats of the finalists

With four matches remaining in Qatar 2022, the focus will remain on the goalkeepers – Livakovic, Emiliano Martinez (Argentina – two saves in the shootout against the Netherlands), Yassine Bounou (Morocco – two saves in the shootout against Spain), and Hugo Lloris (France) – as teams attempt to overcome the final two obstacles.

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