‘Water bottle coning paper’ is the ‘secret sauce’ of successful goalkeepers

“The answer is in the water bottle!”

“Uruguay’s patron saint Sergio Rochette’s secret to saving the penalty shootout was a water bottle,” Brazilian media outlet Globo reported on July 7 (KST).

The Uruguayan national team won 4-2 in penalty kicks after a 0-0 draw with Brazil in the quarterfinals of the CONMEBOL Copa America 2024 at Allegiant Stadium in Nevada, USA.

With the win, Uruguay, the most decorated Copa nation (15 times), advances to the semifinals and continues its title defense. Uruguay will next face Colombia. On the other side of the quarterfinals, Argentina will face Canada.

Uruguay opted for a 4-2-3-1 formation. Mateus Nunes, Maximiliano Araujo-Nicolas de la Cruz-Facundo Pelistri, Manuel Ugarte-Federico Valverde, Matias Vigna-Matias Olivera-Ronald Araujo-Naitan Nandez, and Sergio Rochette started up front.

Brazil also started in a 4-2-3-1 formation. Endrick, Hodrigo, Lucas Paqueta-Hapinha, João Gomes-Bruno Guimarães, Guilherme Arana-Marquinhos, Éder Militão-Danilho, and Alisson Becker started up front. Vinicius Junior did not play due to accumulating cautions.

The game began to heat up as the referee was slow to issue warnings. In the 16th minute, Ronald Araujo deliberately punched Endrick in the shoulder. There were more falls than shots. Even the shots that did come were indecisive.

Uruguay suffered an injury setback. In the 31st minute, Ronald Araujo stretched out his foot to block a cross and suddenly went down, grabbing the back of his thigh. There wasn’t much contact, but he struggled to get up. He was eventually replaced by José Jiménez and limped off the field.

Both teams missed one crucial chance each. In the 35th minute, Nunes got his head on a courier cross from the right. It was a perfect free header with no defense in the way, but the ball sailed high. Brazil responded right back, with Hapinha getting a one-on-one opportunity, but his shot was saved by the keeper. The first half ended 0-0.

The second half was more of the same. However, nothing came close to scoring. Valverde’s long-range shot was the only threat.

Then came the big break. In the 25th minute, Nandes committed a dangerous foul as he tried to forcefully stop Hodriguez from breaking through. It was a deep tackle that landed hard on the ankle. The referee initially pointed to the yellow card, but after a video assistant referee (VAR) review, he awarded a straight red card.

Both teams took advantage of the substitutions. Down to 10 men, Uruguay reduced their attacking numbers in the 33rd minute of the second half, bringing off Felistri and Nunes for Jorginho de Arrascaeta and Guillermo Varela. Brazil then brought on 야설 Douglas Luiz, Xavier and Andreas Pereira for Zapata, Paqueta and Gomes five minutes later.

In the end, no goals were scored. The match ended 0-0 after 41 fouls. Uruguay had 26 fouls and Brazil had 15. The whistle blew about every two minutes. The match went straight to penalty kicks without extra time.

It was a back-and-forth affair from the start. Uruguay took the lead when Militant’s shot was blocked by Rochette. Kicker Luis from the third spot also hit the post. Alisson saved No. 4 Jimenez’s shot to give them one last hope, but that was it. The final kicker, Ugarte, neatly found the back of the net to seal the win for Uruguay.

After the game, Globoo said, “Rochette, the Uruguayan national team gatekeeper, was holding a water bottle with a piece of paper indicating where the goalkeeper should jump in the penalty shootout. The slip of paper had ‘left’ and ‘right’ written on it, with ‘no jump’ in between.”

Rochette gave his team the win when he blocked a kick from Brazil’s No. 1 kicker Militão. The direction of Militão’s shot was written on his water bottle.

‘Water bottle coning paper’ is a trend among goalkeepers. It wasn”t just Rochette who used it to save England, but also Jordan Pickford, the England national team”s goalkeeper.

On July 7, the Three Lions drew 1-1 with Switzerland in the UEFA Euro 2024 quarterfinals at the Düsseldorf Arena in Germany before winning 5-3 on penalties.

The victory puts England through to the last four for the second consecutive tournament after a poor run of form. Switzerland upset defending champions Italy in the round of 16, but were unable to get past the defending runners-up. England will now face the Netherlands on Nov. 11 for a spot in the final.

It was a hard-fought victory. Having struggled throughout the tournament, England pulled out the three-back card, but to little effect. Once again, there was no sign of England dominating their opponents. England and Switzerland didn’t have a single shot on target in the first 45 minutes. The expected goal differential (xG) was just 0.28 to 0.08.

The penalty shootout arrived after a nail-biter. Pickford and his water bottle came to his country’s rescue, as he roared to save Switzerland’s No. 1 kicker Manuel Akanji’s spot-kick. England were the eventual winners, with all five kickers hitting the target. Xhaka was perfect as well, banishing the pain of missing out four years ago.

England’s run to the quarterfinals was largely due to Pickford’s behind-the-scenes efforts: before the game, he analyzed the Swiss players’ penalty-kicking habits and wrote down which way they should run on a water bottle.

He wrote “Akanji – dive to the left,” and Pickford did just that, sending his country through to the semifinals. It wasn’t just luck.

These “coning papers” of the goalkeepers were the result of intense analysis of their opponents.

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