At a European Championship with more countries, more players and more matches than ever, records will be broken anyway. And not just those on Ronaldo’s wish list. One is already shattered: the number of missed penalty kicks during the matches. Schlemielen North Macedonia and Ukraine couldn’t get it against each other. All Spaniards whose last name starts with an M failed. Saturday opponents Bale and Hoejbjerg cannot do it. And the knockout phase hasn’t even started yet.
Despite the orange carpet that seems to have been rolled out – thanks to double-batten head Robert Lewandowski – this is a reason to already get a stomach ache. Because we don’t know much about Czechs, but we do know that they can take penalties. Schick showed it against Croatia.
Just like the Orange, the Czechs have been living on that one title for decades. At the tournament in which only four countries participated in 1976, Czechoslovakia in Yugoslavia was too strong for the Netherlands and West Germany. (If you count in countries that still exist, we actually won them too.)
In Belgrade, the most legendary penalty ever was scored by a small midfielder with a dark mustache. He was hired for the rest of his life to show how he did it at parties panenka exactly made. Last year he was admitted to an intensive care unit in Prague with corona. He fought for his life and recovered. They are also tough, those Czechs.
I am very proud because my idea lives on
A version of this article also appeared in NRC Handelsblad on 26 June 2021
A version of this article also appeared in NRC in the morning of June 26, 2021