England's Jordan Pickford celebrates after the penalty shootout victory against Columbia. Source: Sky News
If you haven’t heard, you’re probably the last person in the world who hasn’t, but England won a penalty shootout. After 6 shootout defeats out of 7 in major international tournaments – that’s a 14% win rate which happens to be the worst of any national team who have taken part in 5 or more shootouts - England have finally done it and research has played a key role.
England reserve keeper Jack Butland explained how the goalkeepers (Pickford, Butland and Pope) sat down with their coaches and analysts to run though footage of the Colombian players' previous penalty attempts. They each drew their own individual conclusions about which members of the Colombian squad would be likely to take a penalty and where they would be looking to place it, and then compared notes. These matched up, a game plan was formed and Pickford set about scribbling this down on his water bottle.
Pickford was able to put this research to good use on the night, along with his tremendous agility and a strong left hand to win the shootout for his country. While I’m sure the team will be conducting the same research for the Sweden game on Saturday, let’s hope penalties will not be needed.
PS. It's coming home!