Why Leo Messi is struggling with penalties?



Bleacher Report’s Richard Fitzpatrick takes a look at Lionel Messi’s main weakness.
The Argentine has scored total 39 free-kick goals with a record number of 24 came in the league. Finally, his sensational 15% conversion rate is twice as much as 6% average across Europe’s top leagues.

However, Messi isn’t so good with penalties, having already missed three of his last six so far this season. While the average penalty-scoring record across is about 78%, Messi can ‘boast’ about just 50%, which is ‘a huge flaw in his game’, according to Ben Lyttleton, author of Twelve Yards: The Art and Psychology of the Perfect Penalty Kick.

Lyttleton believes that the expactations from Messi are rather high. Everyone is certain that the Argentine can somewhat singlehandedly decide the match. Moreover, scoring from the spot is more difficult psychologically because, as Lyttleton puts it, ‘the striker has the advantage over the goalkeeper.’

Lyttleton also advises Messi to solve this issue by developping a comfortable routine. He says: “Is he worried before a game that a penalty may come? What are his habits before taking a penalty? Does he look at the ref before he blows the whistle? Does he take the same number of steps back every time? Does he take a deep breath before he starts his run-up?’