By Thomas Reynolds
6th July 2018
England have shrugged off one World Cup penalty shootout curse only to find themselves juju-ed by another, but Gareth Southgate’s men can beat the new jinx and Sweden to reach the semi-finals.
Southgate’s youthful side, 19/20 to win against Sweden inside 90 minutes, recorded the nation’s first ever shootout victory at the World Cup and only their second at a major tournament in eight attempts against Colombia last time out.
However, recent history suggests reason to be fearful of the repercussions.
Of the last dozen teams to win a penalty shootout in a World Cup finals knockout match (excluding the final itself) all bar one were eliminated in the following round.
Brazil (were the only side among the 12 to overcome this weighty jinx, doing so by besting Colombia in the wake of a spot-kicks triumph over Chile four years ago.
However, sides of the calibre of the Netherlands and Argentina in 2014, Uruguay in 2010 and Germany in 2006 have been unable to pick themselves up and progress again after winning on penalties.
The physical and mental turmoil of 120 minutes of international football, followed by nerve-shredding nature of the 12-yard lottery is doubtless tough to recover from, but how much substance is there to this statistic?
Why England can beat Sweden and rubbish the ‘curse’
Look a little deeper into the so-called hoodoo and it turns out eight of the 11 shootout-winners-turned-next-round-losers had been expected to get beaten in their next outing anyhow – only three were the bookies’ favourites to go through again.
As mentioned previously Three Lions are heavily fancied to beat Sweden inside normal time despite the rotten record of penalty shootout winners next time out at the World Cup, with Janne Andersson’s side 7/2 outsiders for a 90 minute win and 15/8 dogs in the to-qualify betting.