Stale Solbakken's Celtic penalty shootout hopes seem a tad misinformed

By David Walton

February 27, 2020

Copenhagen manager Stale Solbakken has made some interesting comments about a potential penalty shootout this evening.

The Danish champions come into tonight’s match needing a win or a score draw of 2-2 or higher to knock Celtic out and progress to the Europa League last-16. Celtic are in pole position after a fine 1-1 draw in Denmark that could’ve been more.

Yet, it seems as though Solbakken would be satisfied with yet another 1-1 draw tonight at Parkhead. The reason? Because it would take the tie to penalty kicks.

Stale Solbakken (Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)

Solbakken touched on the faith he has in goalkeeper Kalle Johnsson. And speaking to Danish outlet B.T, the Copenhagen boss had the following to say:

In advance, I would take a penalty shootout, because we have a good goalkeeper. Penalty kicks is about 50/50, and it is better than the starting point before the match.

“There will also be great pressure on Celtic players in that situation. The only caveat is that we do not need to play extra minutes because of our match program.

“We practiced vigorously at penalty kicks before playing against the Red Star, and we also trained before we met Atalanta last season. The players have told me that there is a very, very big difference between taking penalties when there is not the same pressure.”

Solbakken clearly unaware of Fraser Forster’s penalty record

This is an idea that’s bugged me since I started watching football. This idea that a penalty shootout is a 50-50 lottery is utter nonsense.

There is skill in taking a penalty. The player has to show both technique and composure, and ideally a lot of confidence when he goes up to strike the ball. Meanwhile, if you have a goalkeeper who is terrific at keeping them out, then it gives you a big advantage over your opponent. That’s what Celtic have here.

Forster has saved 11 of 23 penalties during his time at Parkhead overall. Since signing in the summer, he’s kept out four of a possible seven (Transfermarkt). Those stats suggest that he would be more than capable of keeping Copenhagen out regularly during a shootout tonight.

Celtic goalkeeper Fraser Forster saves a penalty vs Copenhagen (Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)

As for Copenhagen’s Johnsson, he has saved all three penalties he’s been up against this season. However, in his career, he’s failed to halt 29 of a possible 40 (Transfermarkt). They’re decent stats, but if you isolate Forster’s record at Celtic, it’s taken him 17 less penalties to reach the save number that Johnsson has (11).

Would you not have faith in the likes of Odsonne Edouard, Callum McGregor, Mohamed Elyounoussi, and James Forrest to step up from the spot when it matters against Johnsson in any case? Solbakken may want to have another look at Forster’s record before he gets too hopeful of a shootout.

Would you fancy us strongly if the tie went to penalty kicks tonight? Who would be the favourite in that situation in your verdict?