Football

Why are Manchester City so bad at penalties?


Manchester City are a football club with just about everything you need to plan for global domination.

With an elite playmaker in Kevin De Bruyne, an electric goalscorer in Erling Haaland and arguably the best young player around in Phil Foden, City’s wealth of talent and limitless funds make everything in football achievable.

Apart from, apparently, scoring a goal from 12 yards.

Pep Guardiola’s side are ruthless and efficient in open play but have a major stuttering problem when it comes to penalties, fluffing their lines when handed the easiest opportunity to score with alarming regularity.

Here’s the info behind their infamously bad record from the spot.

City’s poor penalty record came under the spotlight in their 0-0 draw with Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League.

Striker Erling Haaland had been taken off by the time the spot kick was awarded, while Kevin De Bruyne was on the bench as an unused substitute.

That left Mahrez as the major candidate to take the penalty, but the Algerian’s firm but central strike was batted away by Gregor Kobel. That took Mahrez’s unsuccessful penalty streak to two efforts, having failed to convert in the previous goalless draw with Copenhagen.

City have now missed 25 of their 80 penalties under Guardiola’s management, having previously struggled without having a certified spot-kick specialist.

“Of course it’s a problem, We have missed 24 or 25 penalties since I’ve been here – most of them in the Champions League. It’s too much,” Guardiola told BT Sport after Mahrez’s most recent miss.

“I always admire the courage to take them, but of course we miss a lot of penalties.

“We missed one in Copenhagen and here as well. In this competition it’s fine margins.

“In this situation, I admire the courage [of Mahrez]. If next time, he feels it, I admire the courage [and] he will take it.”

As recently as December 2021, Guardiola had praised Mahrez as the club’s best penalty taker, also backing Ilkay Gundogan, Bernardo Silva and Rodri as potential alternatives. Raheem Sterling was previously on spot kicks but departed for Chelsea in the summer.

Haaland’s arrival means City do have a proper option for penalties and he’s put two away so far this season in wins against Brighton and West Ham.

All Man City missed penalties under Pep Guardiola

Sergio Aguero is the chief offender when it comes to missing penalties under Guardiola.

The former Argentina striker missed eight in total, including a crucial one in the Champions League quarter-final exit to Tottenham, and even scuffed two in the same game back in 2016 in a Champions League qualifier.

That is one of two times City have missed two penalties in one game under Guardiola, the other coming in October of the same year when Maarten Stekelenburg saved two efforts from Aguero and Kevin De Bruyne.

Jesus is the next biggest liability from the spot, missing six times under Guardiola before his move to Arsenal, while Mahrez has encountered a sticky patch of form over the past year or so.

Haaland’s arrival has put an end to the penalty debate at the Etihad – as long as he’s on the pitch, he’ll be taking them.

The Norwegian has scored twice already from the spot this season and, given he’s chasing all sorts of goalscoring records after an electric start, nobody will be taking the ball off him anytime soon.

Mahrez had said before Haaland arrived that he intended to remain the primary figure on spot kicks, though added that he’s “open” and “not really selfish”. Given his 50% record compared to Haaland’s 100% this season there isn’t much of a debate, though Mahrez is highly unlikely to have struck his last penalty for City.



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