Panathinaikos: But why did Marcelino bet on Ruben Blanco for the penalty shootout?

Marcelino obviously quickly acclimatized to French football and its tradition of chess in sometimes ill-prepared penalty shootouts. The Spanish coach thus acknowledged at a press conference on Monday, on the eve of this boiling third preliminary round return of the Champions League against Panathinaikos (0-1 in the first leg): “I think that winning the match and qualification within 90 minutes. I only think about this. That’s how we prepared for the match. With that goal in mind, we didn’t work on penalties”. A speech that Didier Deschamps and his faithful goalkeeper Hugo Lloris would not have denied, two followers of the famous tricolor theory of “the lottery of shots on goal”.

Except that when the time came, after a success (2-1) insufficient on Tuesday to avoid such a tense outcome, Marcelino surprised everyone by making a Louis van Gaal, or a Hervé Renard it depends. He thus replaced Pau Lopez by Ruben Blanco, as if he finally had a secret weapon for a penalty shootout. But a few minutes later, the Greek players calmly scored their five shots on goal, thus eliminating OM from the race for the Champions League (2-1, 3-5 on pens).

No penalty shootout contested in his career

This choice to bet on Ruben Blanco, who certainly touched the attempt of the Hungarian Pana Laszlo Kleinheisler without managing to push it out of his goal, was it finally justified? “I do not regret the change of goalkeeper before the shots on goal, confided Marcelino after this huge hiccup from Marseille. It is a discussion that we had taken with all the staff and that I assume. We were unlucky, even on penalties, since we had this shot on goal repelled which still landed in the net. Fate did not want us to qualify today. »

Either, but it is not uninteresting to look at the statistics of the former Celta Vigo goalkeeper in the exercise. Because it turns out that Ruben Blanco is not referenced as a penalty shootout expert at all, far from it. According to statistics from Report, the former Spanish U23 international (2 caps) hasn’t saved a single penalty in 22 attempts against him in La Liga. He indeed conceded 20 goals in these phases of play, while two of these penalties were not on target. His only stoppage in the exercise dates back to a King’s Cup match against French striker Kevin Gameiro in 2016. Another surprising stat: the former Celta Vigo goalkeeper played Tuesday, at 28, the first session of shots on goal of his club career! Suffice to say that, like this choice of goalkeeper, the Marseille adventure of Marcelino, longtime friend of Pablo Longoria, did not start in the best of ways.

source site