The Eibar players begin to see the opposing goal smaller than normal. Instead of 7.32 meters long and 2.44 meters high, they perceive that they have a roller hockey goal in front of them, and a giant goalkeeper. When the armorer footballers hear the referee signal a penalty in their favor, they begin to stop thinking about an opportunity and it occurs to them that they are facing a brown. The word is dread. They have had eight shots from eleven meters this season and have only scored three, while five went to limbo from missed big chances.
“It is another reason why we are down,” says José Luis Mendilibar, the Eibar coach. “The penalties that we miss are to get us into the game. They are not penalties to throw in the minutes of the garbage that are worthless. It is not normal to miss five penalties out of eight that we have taken ”.
For a team that is not scoring too many goals, and that also struggles in the relegation places, hitting the maximum penalties is vital, but it is failing. Four players have alternated in the pitches. Edu Expósito began. It was on September 30 against Elche, who had advanced on the scoreboard, in Ipurua, in the first half. In minute 52, the referee signaled the maximum penalty. The midfielder did not hit Badía and Eibar ended up losing 0-1.
The central defender, Esteban Burgos, took over. He became the specialist because he hit the two he launched, against Valladolid and Betis. At Villamarín, Eibar had another opportunity from eleven meters. Sergi Enrich caught the ball, and missed. It was the 90th minute, and Eibar won 0-2. The mistake did not cause his team to lose points, but the forward did not pitch again.
Yes, Edu Expósito did it again, and again he failed, this time against Rui Silva, Granada’s goalkeeper, who has stopped four of the six that have shot him. However, the rejection was used by Bryan Gil to score. It was last January 3. Three weeks later, in Ipurua and against Atlético de Madrid, the one in charge of launching it, by surprise, was the goalkeeper, Marko Dmitrovic. Burgos was not there, so the goalkeeper took responsibility: “The idea that I would shoot it came from Mendilibar. He had been telling me for a long time that I had to shoot penalties. Edu Expósito failed the last one against Granada and before the game against Levante they told me that if there was a penalty I would take it ”. He beat Oblak, whom he duped with a strong, placed shot. It was of no use because Atlético came back.
On March 6, Eibar once again had the opportunity to add. It was at Carranza, against Cádiz, that they won 1-0. Dmitrovic again took responsibility, but his shot was rejected by Ledesma. It was the 57th minute, and a goal served to save a point, but did not arrive.
Nor last Sunday against Villarreal, who won 0-2 in Ipurua, when, before the break, Estupiñán touched the ball with his hand in the area. The ball was caught by Burgos, the most successful until that moment, but his launch, very focused, was cleared by Asenjo’s foot. The goal Eibar scored in the second half was not enough.
“You can practice in training the mechanics of how to shoot it, but in a match there are many things, such as the head, the points you are playing for and those things influence more than the dynamics. We still have to work on them more ”, confesses Mendilibar, saddened by the bad streak of his team, which in seven seasons in the First Division has taken 47 penalties and has missed 14, 30%, while this season doubled that percentage. The worst season had been last, when Eibar failed 3 out of 10. In the 1914/15 campaign, the first in the top flight, they did not make any mistakes, although they only had two in favor.
The team that missed the most penalties in the last decade was FC Barcelona, which in the 1915/16 season wasted eight, of course it shot 19 (42%). A year later, Atlético de Madrid had six errors from 11 meters, and in 17/18, Getafe committed seven.