The 411 on World Cup shootouts 

July, 2, 2010

Today's winners in Stats & Analytics:

Germany, goalies who stay put

Today's losers:

Uruguay, Paraguay

Remember how the last World Cup ended? After surviving Zinedine Zidane's insane headbutt and playing to a 1-1 draw in regulation, Italy beat France on penalty kicks. Neither the Italians nor the French made it to this year's quarterfinals, but penalty shootouts are still around. Personally, I consider them a silly way to end tied championship games, because the ability to beat a goalie from 12 yards away is just a tiny piece of overall soccer skill. But penalty kicks are exciting. More important, there are big differences in how well teams execute them -- differences that one day soon could become even more pronounced as goaltenders, aided by new research, are trained to detect kicker "tells."

Peter Keating | email

ESPN Senior Writer
Peter Keating is a senior writer at ESPN The Magazine, where he covers investigative and statistical subjects. He started writing "The Biz," a column looking at sports business from the fan's point of view, in 1999. He also coordinates the Magazine's annual "Ultimate Standings" project, which ranks all pro franchises according to how much they give back to fans. His work on concussions in football has earned awards from the Deadline Club, the New York Press Club and the Center for the Study of Sport in Society.