Watching nearly 200 Netherlands penalties to create a cheat sheet for England's Jordan Pickford

As Switzerland’s Manuel Akanji stepped up to take the first penalty of the shootout against England, he looked like a nervous wreck.

With a place in the European Championship semi-finals on the line, Jordan Pickford took his time and gingerly made his way to his goal. He knew just how important the first kick was and wanted to do everything in his power to delay it being taken for as long as possible, forcing Akanji to think about his attempt just a little while longer. Having already taken almost 20 seconds to get himself set in goal, Pickford attempted one last distraction technique, walking toward Akanji in a last-ditch effort to intimidate the Swiss defender.

Italian referee Daniele Orsato had already aggressively gestured for Pickford to get in his goal several times and he quickly intervened, emphatically telling the England goalkeeper to get back to his line or risk a booking. 

By that point, almost a minute had elapsed since Cole Palmer had successfully converted England’s first kick and, as it turned out, Akanji had good reason to be as nervous as he was — Pickford already knew where the 28-year-old was going before he even hit the ball. 

Pickford had meticulous instructions for every Swiss player written on his water bottle and next to Akanji’s name, it said “dive left”, and that’s exactly what he did as he expertly stopped Switzerland’s first penalty. From there, England never looked back.

GO DEEPER

Buddy system, Pickford bottle, crucial pauses: England penalties vs Switzerland analysed

Pickford followed his cheat sheet for three of the four Swiss spot kicks, only ignoring it for the second penalty, taken by Fabian Schar, as the Newcastle defender found the back of the net. 

Pickford’s cheat sheet proved accurate for penalties from Xherdan Shaqiri and Zeki Amdouni, even if he was beaten by a strike with too much power and another which rolled down the middle rather than to his left. 

Pickford’s use of a cheat sheet is not a new technique — it’s something that goalkeepers have been doing in some fashion for years.

You may remember Jens Lehmann having a piece of paper tucked into his sock for Germany’s shootout against Argentina at the 2006 World Cup. In a 2022 World Cup qualifying play-off against Peru, Australia goalkeeper Andrew Redmayne hurled the annotated water bottle of his opposite number Pedro Gallese into the crowd during the shootout.

Ever since taking over the No 1 jersey in 2018, Pickford has given England a huge psychological advantage in shootouts, winning three of the four he’s been in: the only loss coming against Italy in the Euro 2020 final, despite him saving two spot kicks. After his stop on Akanji, Pickford has now saved four of the 14 penalties he has faced in shootouts at major tournaments — double the number saved by all the other England goalkeepers combined between 1990 and 2012, according to Opta. 

With a semi-final on the horizon for England on Wednesday and another chance of penalty kicks against the Netherlands, The Athletic asked me to create my own penalty cheat sheet for Pickford.

In order to give him the best chance of success on Wednesday, I bunkered down for several hours on Wyscout and YouTube, watching penalty kicks from every outfield player on the Netherlands Euro 2024 roster — almost 200 in total. 


Want Phil Hay to analyse and explain the biggest Euro 2024 and Copa America stories for you? Sign up (for free) to The Athletic FC newsletter here


As isolated events, penalties are simple to study. Clips can reveal tendencies for regular penalty-takers and footage is heavily relied upon by goalkeepers.

By studying previous kicks, a goalkeeper can reference specific tendencies that can lead to a save. Yes, you look at the direction a player might have previously taken but you also reference their run-ups and timing. Do they open or close their hips? What direction is their plant foot pointing? And how do they strike the ball — with the inside of their foot or their laces?

With each Netherlands player, I went a step further and documented what type of match the kicks occurred in, in what minute, and also took account of the score and situation in the game in order to make an educated guess as to how said player would handle the pressure and behave in a shootout.

Since not every player has taken the same amount of kicks, I will only reference (up to) their most recent 10 penalty kicks (depending on video availability) in fine detail and anything before those 10 will only be referenced in total numbers.

For players who haven’t taken any penalty kicks up to this point in their career, I will by default assume they will shoot to the corner most likely attributed to their dominant foot.

Right-footed players normally shoot towards the “opposite post” and their top target is represented by the low-left corner (50 per cent of attempts to the left corner, 15% down the middle and 35% to the right corner) while left-footed players shoot mostly to their right and their top target is the bottom-right corner (37% of attempts to the left corner, 15% down the middle and 49% to the right corner).

Let’s dive into the Netherlands players’ penalty kick techniques and player history below.


Virgil van Dijk (Liverpool) — 2/3 scored, 66% conversion rate

Virgil van Dijk

Kick result Competition Match Date Time Result Approach Length of run-up Shot direction

Goal

Euro Qualifiers

Netherlands vs Greece

Oct 16, 2023

93rd min

1-0 W

slight angled

short

right

Miss

World Cup QF

Netherlands vs Argentina

Dec 9, 2022

PKs

2-2
(5-6) L

slight angled

short

left

Goal

League Cup Final

Liverpool vs Chelsea

Feb 27, 2022

PKs

0-0 (11-10) W

slight angled

short

left

Though Virgil van Dijk hasn’t taken many penalties in his career, the ones he has have been important and often come with the game on the line.

His approach is consistent and confident, including the one he missed against Argentina’s Emi Martinez in the 2022 World Cup. Each penalty he’s taken has had a slightly angled approach with a short run-up before blasting the ball toward the top corner of the goal.

Twice he has sent the ball left, while he sent his most recent penalty against Greece to the right to secure the Netherlands’ spot at this summer’s Euros


Van Dijk sending the Netherlands to the European Championship with his penalty at the death

However, judging by the confidence of his strike against Kepa Arrizabalaga in the 2022 Carabao Cup final, in addition to his last kick at the World Cup which went to the same side, it wouldn’t be surprising to see him swing the ball across his body and high into the left corner.


Van Dijk rifling the ball into the upper left corner despite Kepa already standing in the left corner

If the game against England does go to a shootout, there is a high probability that Van Dijk will be one of the first players Ronald Koeman selects to take one of the Netherlands’ penalties. As the team’s captain, don’t expect him to be fazed by the moment.

Recommendation for Pickford: Dive right — high

Stefan de Vrij (Inter Milan) — 0/0 scored, 0% conversion rate

Stefan de Vrij has played every single minute of this summer’s tournament and, though he has never taken an official penalty in his career, there is a good chance he will be on the field when the final whistle sounds. It’s essentially a toss-up for Pickford should De Vrij step up, but with the defender being right-footed it’s probably best for Pickford to assume he will shoot across his body and to his left.

Recommendation for Pickford: Dive right

Micky van de Ven (Tottenham Hotspur) — 0/0 scored, 0% conversion rate

Just like De Vrij, Micky van de Ven has never taken an official in-game penalty in his career and therefore is unlikely to take one against England, even if he were to find himself on the field at the end of the match.

With no video to reference, Pickford needs to go with his gut and trust himself in the moment, assuming the Tottenham Hotspur man will shoot across his body and to his right.

Recommendation for Pickford: Dive left

Daley Blind (Girona) — 4/4 scored, 100% conversion rate

Daley Blind

Kick result Competition Match Date Time Result Approach Length of run-up Shot direction

Goal

KNVB Cup

Ajax vs Roda JC

Dec 19, 2018

PKs

1-1 (4-2) W

angled

long

middle

Goal

Champions League

Man U vs Benfica

Oct 31, 2017

77 min

2-0 W

angled

long

middle

Goal

Friendly

Man U vs Real Madrid

Jul 23, 2017

PKs

1-1 (2-1) W

angled

long

middle

Goal

Friendly

Ajax vs Celtic

Jul 21, 2012

66 min

4-0 W

angled

long

middle

Daley Blind has only played a total of one minute at this summer’s Euros and therefore is unlikely to feature should the game go to penalties.

Even though he has a perfect four-from-four record, he hasn’t taken a penalty in almost six years and only ever taken two penalties in official games. Each time he has been required to take a spot kick, he’s had the very same approach and confidently blasted the ball right down the middle.

Should Blind suddenly find himself taking a penalty against England, it’s not hard to fathom what his approach would be.

Pickford’s approach: Hold — react

Matthijs de Ligt (Bayern Munich) — 0/2 scored, 0% conversion rate

Matthijs de Ligt

Kick result Competition Match Date Time Result Approach Length of run-up Shot direction

Miss

KNVB Cup

Ajax vs Roda JC

Dec 19, 2018

PKs

1-1 (4-2) W

narrow

long

left

Miss

KNVB Cup

Ajax vs Twente

Dec 20, 2017

PKs

1-1 (5-6) L

narrow

long

left

Matthijs de Ligt has only ever taken two penalties in his career and in each instance it appeared that he wanted to get it over with as quickly as possible.

In each moment, he appears to rush and stress his attempt, never really giving himself time to relax before the shot. Both times, De Ligt immediately sprinted forward as soon as the referee blew his whistle, totally rushing his attempt and not getting a clean strike on the ball.

De Ligt is yet to make an appearance at this summer’s tournament and therefore is unlikely to be thrust into the limelight at this point considering his poor penalty-kick history.

Recommendation for Pickford: Dive right

Nathan Ake (Manchester City) — 0/0 scored, 0% conversion rate

Though Nathan Ake has played a healthy amount of minutes for the Netherlands at this summer’s tournament, he has been substituted in four of their five games. Therefore, it is unlikely he will be on the field should Wednesday’s game make its way to a shootout.

But if the left-footed Ake is required to take a kick, Pickford again needs to think about the percentages and assume the Manchester City defender will shoot across his body and to his right.

Recommendation for Pickford: Dive left

Denzel Dumfries (Inter Milan) — 3/3 scored, 100% conversion rate

Denzel Dumfries

Kick result Competition Match Date Time Result Approach Length of run-up Shot direction

Goal

Eredivisie

PSV vs Volendam

Jan 19, 2021

79 min

2-0 W

slight angled

long

left

Goal

Eredivisie

PSV vs RKC Waalwijk

Dec 19, 2020

71 min

4-1 W

slight angled

long

left

Goal

Europa League

PSV vs Omonia Nicosia

Dec 10, 2020

63 min

4-0 W

slight angled

long

left

Denzel Dumfries may not be a goalscoring machine, but when called upon he has been as effective a penalty-kick shooter as any, converting all three of his attempts in almost identical fashion: hard, low and to the left side of the goal.


Dumfries expertly curling the ball just inside the left post

It has been over three years since the Inter Milan full-back’s last penalty and he is yet to take one for his country. 

But with Dumfries playing 90 minutes in all four games in which he has featured at Euro 2024, he could get called upon should he go the distance against England. If he does, he will more than likely rely on that history and send the ball low and to his left.

Recommendation for Pickford: Dive right — low 

Lutsharel Geertruida (Feyenoord) — 1/1 scored, 100% conversion rate

Lutsharel Geertruida

Kick result Competition Match Date Time Result Approach Length of run-up Shot direction

Goal

Eredivisie

Feyenoord vs Excelsior

May 19, 2024

86 min

4-0 W

narrow

long

right

After appearing in two of the Netherlands’ first three group-stage games, Lutsharel Geertruida has found himself warming the bench in the knockout rounds.

That alone is probably the biggest reason why he likely won’t be given the opportunity to be trusted to take a penalty kick against England. However, if he does find himself in front of Pickford and with the game on the line, the English goalkeeper only needs to look at Geertruida’s successful spot kick for Feyenoord against Excelsior in May as inspiration: low, hard, and to the lower-right corner.

Recommendation for Pickford: Dive left — low

Jeremie Frimpong (Bayer Leverkusen) — 0/0 scored, 0% conversion rate

Jeremie Frimpong’s playing time this summer has been fairly limited, so chances are he won’t be seeing much of the field against England either.

With his dominant foot being his right, it’s safe to say that, statistically speaking, there is a good chance he would shoot to his left if given the opportunity.

Recommendation for Pickford: Dive right

Ian Maatsen (Borussia Dortmund) — 3/3 scored*, 100% conversion rate

*All goals scored at youth/reserve-team level

Ian Maatsen

Kick result Competition Match Date Time Result Approach Length of run-up Shot direction

Goal

Football League Trophy

Chelsea U-21 vs Walsall

Sept 29, 2020

PKs

1-1 (5-3) W

narrow

long

right

Goal

U-17 World Cup

Netherlands vs Mexico

Nov 14, 2019

PKs

1-1 (3-4) L

unknown

unknown

unknown

Goal

UEFA Youth League

Chelsea U-19 vs Barcelona U-19

Apr 26, 2019

PKs

2-2 (5-4) W

slight angled

long

right

Though Ian Maatsen has successfully taken and scored all three of his penalty-kick attempts, he hasn’t scored a penalty at the senior level and is yet to appear at this summer’s tournament.

Therefore it’s highly unlikely that his name gets called should the game go to penalties. That being said, if he does, Pickford would be wise to dive to his left (the shooter’s right) since two of his three attempts have been sent low and to the right corner.

Recommendation for Pickford: Dive left — low

Ryan Gravenberch (Liverpool) — 0/0 scored, 100% conversion rate

Ryan Gravenberch is yet to appear at the Euros and, with several players ahead of him at the moment in the pecking order, it is doubtful that changes any time soon.

If something drastic happens and he does get thrust into the game and then needs to take a penalty, Pickford again would be wise to trust the percentages and assume the right-footed Gravenberch would shoot the ball across his body and to his left.

Recommendation for Pickford: Dive right

Tijjani Reijnders (AC Milan) — 3/3 scored, 100% conversion rate

Tijjani Reijnders

Kick result Competition Match Date Time Result Approach Length of run-up Shot direction

Goal

Friendly

AC Milan vs Monza

Aug 8, 2023

PKs

1-1 (6-5) W

slight angled

long

right

Goal

Europa Conference League

AZ vs Anderlecht

Apr 20, 2023

PKs

2-2 (4-1) W

slight angled

long

left

Goal

Eerste Divisie

Jong AZ vs Den Bosch

Apr 5, 2021

92 min

2-1 W

narrow

long

left

Tijjani Reijnders has started every game of this summer’s tournament and played the full 90 minutes in three of his team’s five matches.

Though he hasn’t yet been trusted as a penalty specialist in regulation time for AC Milan or Netherlands, he does have a positive shootout experience he can rely upon from his time with AZ Alkmaar, against Anderlecht in the 2023 Europa Conference League.

In total, Reijnders has only taken three spot-kicks in his career, sending two of them to his left, and his most recent one for AC Milan to his right. Considering that his successful kick against Monza came in a pre-season friendly, there is a good chance he instead relies on his experience against Anderlecht — a more high-pressure situation — should his name get called in the shootout.

Recommendation for Pickford: Dive right

Xavi Simons (Paris Saint-Germain) — 7/9 scored*, 78% conversion rate

*3/5 scored at senior level

Xavi Simons

Kick result Competition Match Date Time Result Approach Length of run-up Shot direction

Goal

Bundesliga

RB Leipzig vs Eintracht Frankfurt

May 18, 2024

42 min

2-2

slight angled

medium

right

Miss

Bundesliga

RB Leipzig vs Bochum

Oct 7, 2023

27 min

0-0

slight angled

medium

right

Goal

Eredivisie

PSV vs Heerenveen

May 21, 2023

86 min

3-3

slight angled

medium

right

Goal

Eredivisie

PSV vs Ajax

Apr 23, 2023

54 min

3-0 W

slight angled

medium

left

Goal

UEFA Youth League

PSG U-19 vs Sevilla Juvenil A

Mar 1, 2022

47 min

2-0 W

slight angled

medium

left

Miss

French Cup

PSG vs Nice

Jan 31, 2022

PKs

0-0 (5-6) L

slight angled

medium

right

Goal

UEFA Euro U-19 Qualification

Netherlands U-19 vs Israel U-19

Nov 16, 2021

54 min

4-1 W

slight angled

medium

left

Goal

UEFA Youth League

PSG U-19 vs Man City U-19

Sept 28, 2021

68 min

1-1

slight angled

medium

left

Goal

Coupe Gambardella

PSG U-19 vs Stade de Reims U-19

Feb 2, 2020

50 min

2-0 W

slight angled

long

left

Despite being one of Koeman’s youngest players, Xavi Simons has already become an important cog for the Netherlands in this summer’s tournament. Having played nearly every minute of the knockout stages, there is a good chance that Simons will be relied upon once again against England.

Though Simons has varied in the direction of his penalty kicks throughout his career, at senior level he has elected to send the ball to his right in four of his five penalty-kick attempts. Each time, his approach has been very similar: he keeps his focus on the ball, takes a few slow steps forward, then opens his hips at the last second and pushes the ball with the inside of his right foot toward the lower right corner.

The only exception is his penalty against Ajax, for PSV in 2023, when he swung his hips closed and curled the ball low and to his left.


Simons burying the ball low and to the right corner

One thing to keep an eye on is his body language should he get a chance to take a penalty kick against England.

Though he has been calm and confident for the most part of the past year or so, in Simons’ very first penalty shootout in the French Cup for Paris Saint-Germain against Nice in January 2022, he looked like a nervous wreck before ultimately missing the deciding kick as PSG were eliminated.


A nervous Simons has his deciding kick saved by the Nice ‘keeper

Pressure can make the best players do some crazy things and with his miss against Nice certainly in the back of his mind, it will be interesting to see if he learned from that moment should he get the chance against England.

Recommendation for Pickford: Fake right then dive left — low

Joey Veerman (PSV) — 4/7 scored, 57% conversion rate

Joey Veerman

Kick result Competition Match Date Time Result Approach Length of run-up Shot direction

Miss

Eredivisie

Heerenveen vs Feyenoord

Feb 17, 2021

53 min

4-3 W

slight angled

long

right

Miss

Eredivisie

Heerenveen vs Vitesse

Feb 6, 2021

30 min

1-0 W

slight angled

long

right

Goal

KNVB Cup

Heerenveen vs Emmen

Jan 20, 2021

90 min

2-1 W

slight angled

long

right

Goal

Eredivisie

Heerenveen vs VVV

Sept 26, 2020

32 min

1-0 W

slight angled

long

right

Goal

Eredivisie

Heerenveen vs Fortuna Sittard

Sept 19, 2020

29 min

3-1 W

slight angled

long

right

Miss

Jupiler League

FC Volendam vs RKC Waalwijk

Dec 15, 2017

55 min

3-1 W

slight angled

long

right

Goal

Jupiler League

FC Volendam vs SC Telstar

Oct 6, 2017

58 min

4-3 L

slight angled

long

right

Of all the potential penalty-kick takers available for Koeman, Joey Veerman is the only player who has sent every single one of his kicks to the right and at nearly exactly the same height.

Though he was initially successful in his approach, completing his first three kicks at senior level, he has missed his last two penalties and has not taken one since February 2021.


Veerman has sent every single one of his penalties low and to the right, with mixed results

Veerman has been one of the first players off the bench for the Netherlands this summer and has appeared in every match so far. Should the game go to extra time on Wednesday, it is quite possible that Veerman finds himself on the field after the final whistle and one of the 11 who potentially could take a kick.

There is probably no player who would be easier for Pickford to prepare for than Veerman considering he has sent his penalty the same way every single time, and is very unlikely to change things now in the biggest game of his career.

Recommendation for Pickford: Fake right then dive left — low

Jerdy Schouten (PSV) — 0/0 scored, 0% conversion rate

Though Jerdy Schouten has been a mainstay in the Netherlands line-up this tournament, with no penalty experience to rely on it’s hard to imagine him having to take a spot kick in a Euros semi-final against England.

However, if he were required to step up, Pickford would want to trust the percentages and also that the right-footed Schouten would send the ball toward the left side of the goal.

Recommendation for Pickford: Dive right

Georginio Wijnaldum (Al Ettifaq) — 8/13 scored, 62% conversion rate

Georginio Wijnaldum

Kick result Competition Match Date Time Result Approach Length of run-up Shot direction

Goal

Carabao Cup

Liverpool vs Arsenal

Oct 1, 2020

PKs

0-0 (5-4) L

narrow

long

right

Miss

FA Community Shield

Liverpool vs Man City

Aug 4, 2019

PKs

1-0 W

narrow

long

left

Goal

Premier League

Newcastle vs Tottenham

May 15, 2016

73 min

5-1 W

narrow

long

right

Miss

KNVB Beker

PSV vs Achilles

Sept 27, 2012

65 min

3-2 W

unknown

unknown

unknown

Miss

UEFA Euro U-21 Qualifying

Netherlands U-21 vs Austria U-21

Sept 9, 2012

38 min

4-1 W

unknown

unknown

unknown

Miss

Eredivisie

PSV vs Heracles Almelo

Nov 6, 2011

31min

4-1 W

narrow

long

left

Goal

UEFA Europa League

PSV vs Hapoel Tel Aviv

Oct 20, 2011

70 min

1-0 W

unknown

unknown

unknown

Miss

Eredivisie

PSV vs Roda JC

Sept 24, 2011

61 min

7-1 W

narrow

long

left

Goal

Eredivisie

PSV vs Ajax

Sept 18, 2011

55 min

2-2

narrow

long

left

Goal

Friendly

Netherlands U-21 vs Israel U-21

May 27, 2011

55 min

2-0 W

unknown

unknown

unknown

Though Georginio Wijnaldum has managed to make a few appearances off the bench during the group stages, he is yet to feature in the knockout rounds.

Of course, it is possible that should the game against England go the full 120 minutes, that they will need him to step up at some point but the chances that Wijnaldum is one of the first five players trusted to take a penalty kick are still slim.

While it is true that the 33-year-old is one of the most experienced players in the Netherlands squad and drilled his most recent penalty — for Liverpool in the Carabao Cup against Arsenal in 2020 — in the top corner, his penalty record overall isn’t the strongest.


Here is his most recent penalty against Arsenal which he rifled into the top corner

Plus, Wijnaldum has only taken three penalties in the past 10 years and the majority of his successful kicks came in the early 2010s. In the video available, he has shown that he can go both ways but more often than not, he has preferred to swing the ball across his body and low into the left corner.

Recommendation for Pickford: Dive right — low

Steven Bergwijn (Ajax) — 12/12 scored, 100% conversion rate

Steven Bergwijn

Kick result Competition Match Date Time Result Approach Length of run-up Shot direction

Goal

Eredivisie

Ajax vs Twenty

Apr 14, 2024

81 min

2-1 W

slight angled

medium

right

Goal

Eredivisie

Ajax vs Sparta Rotterdam

Dec 9, 2023

42 min

2-1 W

slight angled

medium

left

Goal

Eredivisie

Ajax vs RKC Waalwijk

Dec 6, 2023

43 min

3-2 W

slight angled

medium

right

Goal

Eredivisie

Ajax vs Utrecht

Oct 22, 2023

65 min

4-3 L

slight angled

medium

left

Goal

Europa League

Ajax vs AEK Athens

Oct 5, 2023

30 min

1-1

slight angled

medium

left

Goal

Eredivisie

Ajax vs Heracles

Aug 12, 2023

96 min

4-1 W

slight angled

medium

left

Goal

Champions League

Ajax vs Napoli

Oct 12, 2022

83 min

2-4 L

slight angled

medium

left

Goal

Eredivisie

PSV vs Fortuna Sittard

Dec 7, 2019

42 min

5-0 W

slight angled

medium

left

Goal

Europa League Qualification

PSV vs FK Haugesund

Aug 8, 2019

24 min

1-0 W

slight angled

medium

right

Goal

Eredivisie

PSV vs De Graafschap

April 14, 2019

65 min

2-1 W

slight angled

medium

left

There is no question about it — Steven Bergwijn is one of the best, if not the best penalty-taker on the Netherlands roster. The biggest problem for Koeman is that so far during this European tournament, his playing time has been limited.

After sitting out the first three group-stage games, he has managed to work his way back in the line-up and has started the two knockout round matches against Romania and Turkey. However, in both instances, he was substituted at half-time due to “physical issues”, according to Netherlands manager Koeman.

With all this in mind, Koeman may be wise to use Bergwijn as a super sub against England and save him for late in the match should the game appear to be headed for a shootout.

Bergwijn has scored all 12 of the penalties he has attempted in his career, the majority of them occurring during the last couple of seasons. The former Tottenham forward is confident and consistent in his approach, and able to send the ball both ways.


Here is Bergwijn sending the ball to the lower right corner


And here he is again sending the ball to the upper left side of the goal

However, there does appear to be a preference to whip the ball to his left — seven of his previous 10 penalties went that direction, several of them to the middle or upper half of the goal.

If I were Pickford’s goalkeeping coach, I would tell him to delay and wait until the last possible moment before making his move for one of Bergwijn’s kicks. Then, just as he is about to shoot, to pounce high to his right and make the save.

Recommendation for Pickford: Hold then dive right — high

Memphis Depay — 32/43 scored, 74% conversion rate

Memphis Depay

Kick result Competition Match Date Time Result Approach Length of run-up Shot direction

Goal

Champions League

Athletico Madrid vs Inter

Mar 13, 2024

PKs

2-2 (3-2) W

angled approach

short

left

Miss

Friendly

Athletico Madrid vs Real Sociedad

Aug 3, 2023

80 min

0-0

angled approach

short

middle

Miss

European Qualifiers

Netherlands vs France

Mar 24, 2023

95 min

0-4 L

angled approach

short

right

Miss

UEFA Nations League

Netherlands vs Poland

Jun 11, 2022

91 min

2-2

angled approach

short

right

Goal

Europa League

Barcelona vs Eintracht Frankfurt

Apr 14, 2022

101 min

2-3 L

angled approach

short

right

Goal

Friendly

Netherlands vs Denmark

Mar 26, 2022

37 min

4-2 W

angled approach

short

right

Goal

La Liga

Barcelona vs Elche CF

Mar 6, 2022

84 min

2-1 W

angled approach

short

right

Goal

La Liga

Barcelona bs RCD Espanyol

Nov 20, 2021

48 min

1-0 W

angled approach

short

right

Goal

World Cup Qualification

Netherlands vs Montenegro

Nov 13, 2021

25 min

2-2

angled approach

short

left

Miss

La Liga

Barcelona vs Rayo Vallecano

October 27, 2021

72 min

0-1 L

angled approach

short

left

Memphis Depay is the most experienced penalty-taker the Netherlands have, having taken over 40 spot-kicks in his career for club and country. His success is limited, however. While his penalty-kick conversion rate (74.4 per cent) is right in line with the average overall success rate in penalty-kick situations (75 per cent), he has struggled as of late, only converting six of his last 10 from the spot, including two of his last five.

When you take as many penalty kicks as Depay has, it is only natural that your numbers start to drop off due to more film and statistics being available to your opponents. However, it’s hard not to admit that his composure as of late has been lacking.When you look at his past 10 chances from the spot, some trends start to appear.

While he is able to vary his placement of the ball (three to the right, one down the middle and six to the left), there does appear to be a tendency for the 30-year-old to use the same run-up and angle, regardless of which side he shoots, while also preferring to shoot the ball with power.

Though he has been able to rifle a few balls into the upper corners with his rocket of a right leg, there is a tendency for Depay to shoot low and into the corners as much as he can, knowing that if he goes high, there is a risk he shoots the ball over the bar.


Here is Depay drilling his attempt into the upper left corner of the goal


Here he is using his laces to power the ball low and to his right

Despite his struggles as of late, should Depay manage to go the distance agains England there is a good chance that he will be one of the five selected to take a spot kick, largely due to his experience in these situations.

Recommendation for Pickford: Dive left — low

Brian Brobbey (Ajax) — 20/24 scored*, 83% conversion rate

*2/4 scored at the senior level

Brian Brobbey

Kick result Competition Match Date Time Result Approach Length of run-up Shot direction

Miss

Eredivisie

Ajax vs RKC Waalwijk

Jan 21, 2024

70 min

4-1 W

angled

long

right

Goal

Friendly

Ajax vs Ausburg

Jul 29, 2023

56 min

1-3 L

slight angled

long

left

Goal

Friendly

Ajax vs Unterhaching

Jul 25, 2023

39 min

5-3 W

slight angled

long

right

Miss

KNVB Cup

Ajax vs PSV

Apr 30, 2023

PKs

1-1 (2-3) L

angled

long

left

Though Brian Brobbey has had a successful career banging in penalty kicks at youth level for club and country, things have yet to click as a professional.

He rocketed his very first senior penalty over the bar in Ajax’s loss against PSV in the KNVB Cup final in 2023.

Some moments hurt more than others and though he was able to temporarily recover and convert two penalties during Ajax’s pre-season friendlies last year, his miss in a league game in January against RKC Waalwijk makes me believe his cup-final failure from 12 yards still seems to be in the back of his mind.

Part of the problem that has arisen for Brobbey is he hasn’t quite gotten his approach down to a science as of just yet. The two times he’s succeeded, out of four attempts, he has moved toward the ball slowly and kept a careful eye on the goalkeeper’s movement before slotting his kick the other way. The two times he’s missed, he has appeared stressed, rushed and uncomfortable in his attempts.

With no minutes yet in this summer’s tournament and his dismal penalty record for Ajax, it’s slim to no chance that Koeman gives him an opportunity against England.

Recommendation for Pickford: Hold then dive left — low

Wout Weghorst (Burnley) — 18/30 scored, 60% conversion rate

Wout Weghorst

Kick result Competition Match Date Time Result Approach Length of run-up Shot direction

Goal

Bundesliga

Hoffenheim vs Stuttgart

Oct 28, 2023

21 min

3-2 W

slight angled

medium

left

Miss

Euro Qualifiers

Netherlands vs Greece

Oct 16, 2023

28 min

1-0 W

slight angled

medium

right

Goal

FA Cup

Man U vs Brighton

Apr 23, 2023

PKs

0-0 (7-6) W

narrow

medium

right

Goal

World Cup Final

Netherlands vs Argentina

Dec 9, 2022

PKs

2-2 (3-4) L

slight angled

medium

left

Miss

Super Lig

Besiktas vs Giresunspor

Oct 8, 2022

20 min

1-0 W

narrow

medium

right

Goal

Bundesliga

Wolfsburg vs Greuther Furth

Sept 11, 2021

91 min

2-0 W

slight angled

medium

left

Miss

Bundesliga

Wolfsburg vs VfL Bochum

Aug 14, 2021

5 min

1-0 W

slight angled

medium

right

Miss

DFB Pokal

Wolfsburg vs RB Leipzig

Mar 3, 2021

26 min

0-2 L

slight angled

medium

right

Miss

DFB Pokal

Wolfsburg vs FC Schalke

Feb 3, 2021

40 min

1-0 W

narrow

medium

right

Goal

Bundesliga

Wolfsburg vs FC Union Berlin

January 9, 2021

65 min

2-2

slight angled

medium

left

After Depay, Wout Weghorst is the Netherlands’ most experienced penalty-kick taker with 18 successful kicks in his career. But, just like Depay, his numbers have fluctuated over time.

Though Weghort’s overall conversion rate is 60 per cent (which is very low for any shooter at any level), he continues to be trusted to step up to the spot for club and country when his team is in a jam.

Along with Van Dijk, Weghorst is the only other penalty-taker from the Netherlands’ 2022 World Cup quarter-final shootout against Argentina in their Euro 2024 squad and the only shooter in the team to have converted a successful penalty kick at a major tournament.

That reason alone is why he would be one of the names on the shootout list against England.

Though Weghorst has preferred to go right (six times) more often than he goes left (four times), he is a much stronger and more successful shooter when going towards the latter. All five of his most recent misses have occurred when he shoots the ball to his right, while he has been a perfect four from four when going left — sending his ball low and toward the corner.


Weghorst swinging the ball across his body and into the side netting

Despite him sending slightly more than the majority of his penalties right, I would venture to guess that should he be put in the pressure situation of having to score a penalty against England, he will repeat his approach from the 2022 World Cup and send his strike low and to the left.

Recommendation for Pickford: Hold then dive right — low

Donyell Malen (Borussia Dortmund) — 5/7 scored*, 71% conversion rate

*2/4 scored at senior level

Donyell Malen

Kick result Competition Match Date Time Result Approach Length of run-up Shot direction

Miss

Eredivisie

PSV vs Sparta Rotterdam

Nov 29, 2020

78 min

1-0 W

narrow to slight angled

medium

left

Miss

Eredivisie

PSV vs Groningen

Sept 12, 2020

83 min

3-1 W

narrow to slight angled

medium

right

Goal

Eredivisie

PSV vs Vitesse Arnhem

Sept 9, 2019

83 min

5-0 W

narrow to slight angled

medium

right

Goal

Eredivisie

PSV vs Vitesse Arnhem

Sept 9, 2019

89 min

5-0 W

narrow to slight angled

medium

left

Goal

Jupiler League

PSV U-21 vs SC Telstar

Nov 24, 2017

29 min

6-0 W

unknown

unknown

unknown

Goal

Euro U-17 Qualification

Netherlands U-17 vs Slovakia U-17

Mar 26, 2016

16 min

2-0 W

unknown

unknown

unknown

Goal

Premier League 2

Arsenal U-21 vs Aston Villa U-21

Dec 21, 2015

81 min

2-1 L

unknown

unknown

unknown

Despite not playing against Turkey, Donyell Malen’s two goals from the bench against Romania in the round of 16 means that there is always a chance his name gets called again against England.

While Malen has missed the last two penalty kicks he’s attempted and has not taken one in almost four years, his five-goal performance against Vitesse Arnhem in 2019, which saw him score two penalties late in the match, will likely serve as his inspiration.

In that game, he sent each kick in opposite directions and converted both. The key for Pickford will be to wait as long as he can, hold his position, and see if Malen gives anything away in his approach.

Recommendation for Pickford: Hold then dive left – low

Cody Gakpo (Liverpool) — 4/5 scored, 80% conversion rate

Cody Gakpo

Kick result Competition Match Date Time Result Approach Length of run-up Shot direction

Goal

Euro Qualifiers

Netherlands vs Ireland

Sept 10, 2023

19 min

2-1 W

slight angled

short

right

Goal

Eredivisie

PSV vs RKC Waalwijk

Sept 12, 2022

96 min

1-0 W

slight angled

short

right

Goal

Eredivisie

PSV vs FC Volendam

Sept 9, 2022

25 min

7-1 W

slight angled

short

right

Miss

UEFA Conference League

PSV vs FC Copenhagen

Mar 10, 2022

62 min

4-4 L

slight angled

short

left

Goal

Eredivisie

PSV vs RKC Waalwijk

Dec 19, 2021

52 min

4-1 W

slight angled

short

right

Cody Gakpo may not have an extensive penalty-kick resume but he is growing into someone who can be trusted by his team-mates in crunch time. Having played a significant amount of minutes thus far at Euro 2024, he is a good bet to go the distance for the Netherlands should they need him.

Gakpo has a no-nonsense and consistent approach to penalty kicks. Each time he stands over the ball, he keeps his head down and is focused on the task at hand, keeping the distance between himself and the ball minimal.

Rather than watch the goalkeeper, like some other forwards elect to do in penalty situations, he instead picks his spot, then puts his head down and trusts that his muscle memory and exceptional technique will get the job done.

Of the five penalty kicks he has taken, four of them have been sent to his right, while the only miss he’s had was when he switched things up and sent the ball to the left.

The most impressive aspect of his penalty kicks are the precision. Every single one of his kicks has been sent low and placed exactly in the corner, twice beating the opposing goalkeeper despite them diving in the correct direction.


Here is Gakpo beating the ‘keeper despite them diving in the correct direction

Of all the takers that Pickford could potentially face, this is the one Netherlands player where I would want Pickford to be on his toes and ready to go just a tad early because without that, it is unlikely he will be able to keep the ball out of the net, even if he does manage to dive the correct way.

Recommendation for Pickford: Dive left — low

Joshua Zirkzee (Bologna) — 5/6 scored*, 83% conversion rate

*3/3 scored at senior level

Joshua Zirkzee

Kick result Competition Match Date Time Result Approach Length of run-up Shot direction

Goal

Serie A

Bologna vs Atlanta

Mar 3, 2024

57 min

2-1 W

angled

long

right

Goal

Coppa Italia

Bologna vs ACF Fiorentina

Jan 9, 2024

PKs

2-1 L

slight angled

long

right

Goal

Serie A

Bologna vs ACF Fiorentina

Nov 12, 2023

33 min

2-1 L

slight angled

long

right

Goal

Euro U-21 Qualifying

Netherlands U-21 vs Bulgaria U-21

Nov 12, 2021

91 min

3-1 W

angled

long

left

Joshua Zirkzee is a young, exciting talent for the Netherlands and has converted all three of his kicks for his current club, Bologna.

Zirkzee has only played three minutes thus far at Euro 2024 (a brief cameo against Turkey) and therefore it is unlikely he will be thrust into the bright lights against England. But if he does, expect him to step up and deliver the same approach he has for Bologna: cool, calm and composed.

Each of his penalty kicks have been sent low and to his right — the only exception was his panenka penalty for Netherlands Under-21s, which he chipped to the left of the goalkeeper.

Recommendation for Pickford: Hold then dive left — low

(Top photo: Getty Images; design: Eamonn Dalton)