Biggest World Cup flops from the spot

Fifa World Cup Brazil

Why is it so hard for professional footballers to score a goal from just 12 yards? We take a look in this FIFA World Cup guide - England & Italy feature.

Since the first penalty shootout at the 1982 World Cup between West Germany and France, 204 have been taken, 60 have been saved or missed with 162 taken with the right foot and 42 with the left. They've decided two finals, made nations blub uncontrollably and remain a major talking point to this day.

But which penalty since the first World Cup finals in 1930 has been the most horrific? Who missed the crucial penalty at the worst possible moment, who put it so high and over that it cleared row z, and who still has nightmares about their miss today?

Here's a guide to the five worst penalties in World Cup History - they're not pretty.

Roberto Baggio - 1994 Final

Baggio carried Italy through to the final with some superb displays in the USA, but the final ended 0-0 which meant penalties would decide a World Cup Final for the first time. After Franco Baresi and Daniele Massaro's missed, it was down to the former Juventus star to keep his side in it. He couldn't, even with his lovely rats tail, as he put the ball over the bar and Brazil won the their fourth World Cup. He said his penalty failure affected him for years and still doesn't consider losing on penalties a defeat.

David Batty – 1998 Last 16

One of England's most memorable matches at a World Cup ended in disaster as they were beaten on penalties again. After Michael Owen's spectacular solo goal and David Beckham's sending off for kicking Diego Simeone, the game finished 2-2. Paul Ince had already missed before Batty had his dreadful attempt saved by Carlos Roa. Kevin Keegan, who famously predicted the midfielder would score in the commentary box, couldn't have been more wrong. England were out. 

Asamoah Gyan – 2010 Quarter Final

In South Africa in 2010 it looked like an African side would be advancing to the semi finals for the first time when Ghana were awarded a penalty with the last kick of their game against Uruguay. But the dream was shattered as Gyan's spot-kick hit the top of the crossbar to send the game to penalties. Although Gyan scored his in the shootout, Uruguay triumphed 4-2. Luis Suarez had stopped a definite goal with a handball on the line which only further incensed the Africans. 

Maxime Bossis, 1982 Semi Final

This, like Gyan's effort was more shocking due to the circumstances that led to it. Bossis saw his penalty saved by Harald 'Toni' Schumacher in the World Cup's first shoot-out, in Spain 1982 but that doesn't paint the full picture. Schumacher shouldn't have been on the pitch after he had raced out of his goal during the semi-final in Seville and flattened Patrick Battiston by jumping into him hip first. The match itself finished 3-3 after extra time, but Schumacher made some crucial saves in the shootout, which only added to the sense of injustice for the French.

Chris Waddle – 1990 Semi Final

England were within touching distance of reaching the 1990 final as they took West Germany to penalties in Turin. Stuart Pearce had already seen his spot-kick saved by German stopper Bodo Illgner before Waddle made his way to the penalty area. The mullet haired midfielder stepped up but hoofed his effort well over the bar to hand the Germans a 4-3 win in the shoot-out.

How to take a Penalty? 

In Brazil this year, there's sure to be another penalty shootout and another villain made. So here's a tip for all the players going to Brazil this summer. If possible, be German (they've not lost a penalty shootout in World Cup finals), but if that's not possible, bury them into the bottom left hand corner, that's statistically the most successful place for a penalty.

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