The words “Germany” and “penalty shootout” are usually enough to cause most England fans to break out in a cold sweat.
Famously, our record against the Germans from 12 yards is not fantastic, and Three Lions boss Gareth Southgate knows that better than most having missed a decisive spot-kick in the semi-final of Euro ‘96.
But with the two nations on a knockout collision course at a major international tournament once again, there’s every chance that things could go the distance and the match may have to be decided by that cruellest of lotteries.
With that in mind, we’ve taken a closer look at the two men who would be busier than most in that unwanted scenario – Jordan Pickford and Manuel Neuer – to determine which of the two goalkeepers could hand their side a major advantage…
Let’s start with the England number one, who holds the rare distinction of being the only ever Three Lions stopper to feature in more than one shootout victory for the national team.
His first was of course the 2018 World Cup win over Colombia, in which he was one of the heroes after saving Carlos Bacca’s effort to help secure his side a place in the last eight.
The second came in the UEFA Nations League a year later, when the Everton keeper saved a spot-kick and scored one of his own in dramatic fashion to help England overcome Swirzerland.
Outside of those two examples, and away from shootouts entirely, Pickford’s record is pretty good too.
According to Transfermarkt, over the course of his career, the 27-year-old has faced 46 penalties, saving 11 and conceding 35. That gives him a success rate of 23.9%. In other words, he saves just under one in four, on average.
Neuer is a grizzled veteran of the upper echelons of European football, and is by no means a stranger to the drama of a penalty shootout.
The 35-year-old has scored spot-kicks of his own, coolly converting one in the 2012 Champions League final defeat to Chelsea among others, and he’s been the hero on numerous occasions when it comes to keeping the ball out too.
In fact, that 2012 Champions League run, he managed to keep out both Cristiano Ronaldo and Kaka as Bayern Munich saw off Real Madrid in the semi-finals.
In terms of his overall record, Neuer has faced 70 non-shootout penalties, saving 22 and conceding 48. That gives the distinguished German a success rate of 31.4% – just under one save from every three efforts on goal.
There’s good news and there’s bad news for England fans.
The bad news is that when it comes to saving penalties, Neuer is – as with most aspects of his game – pretty exemplary.
The good news is that our lad isn’t too bad either. Pickford has already proven on more than one occasion that he has the nerve and the courage to make himself a hero in these situations, and while nobody wants it come down to a shootout, at least there’s some solace to be taken in having the Everton man between the sticks.