Jens’ Competitive Advantage (Why the Germans are Better at Penalty Kicks)

Has Jens opened his mouth to soon?
The full story of Lehmann’s preparation emerged yesterday. He won the 1997 Uefa Cup with Schalke against Internazionale after making a penalty save. His manager at Schalke was Huub Stevens, who is responsible for a personal database of 13,000 penalty kicks. Lehmann used this archive against Inter and, prior to the Argentina game, he telephoned Stevens.
The 36-year-old goalkeeper already had the benefit of the German FA’s database – they had copied Stevens’ approach – and having collated the information about who takes Argentina’s penalties and how they take them, Germany’s goalkeeping coach Andreas Kopke wrote it on a piece of paper ripped from a hotel notepad. On it was written details such as “[Julio] Cruz – stand tall, don’t move, dive right”.
For Argentina’s second penalty-taker, Roberto Ayala, it said: “Ayala – look at shooting foot, left low.” Sure enough, Ayala placed the ball low to Lehmann’s left and it was advantage Germany.
When Maxi Rodríguez walked up to strike the third, Lehmann knew it would be “hard, right”. He went the correct way and was unlucky not to make the save. But after Borowski had made it 4-2, Esteban Cambiasso had to score to keep Argentina in the tournament. Lehmann’s notes said: “Wait, stand tall, left corner.” He duly made an impressive stop to his left.
More from the Guardian.

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