[This is an article from January 2018, but we've updated it to include his penalty miss against Iceland in the World Cup]
Messi's surprising frailty from the penalty spot can be seen in the statistics. According to Mr Chip's data the striker has failed to score from 24 out of the 105 penalties he's taken in his career. A failure rate of 22.9%. For Barcelona he's taken 86 penalties and failed to score 24.4% of them, 21 in total. Meanwhile for the full Argentina side he's taken 14 and missed 2, a 14.3% fail rate.
Messi misses penalty against Iceland at World Cup
In addition to his frailty from the spot for his club, Messi also missed a penalty in the 64th minute of Argentina's opening game of the World Cup in Russia, with Iceland keeper Thor Halldorsson moving well to his right to push Messi's spot-kick away. The match at this point stood at 1-1, with Argentina frustrated by the solid defensive covering of the Iceland team.
Messi's penalties getting worse
What's potentially worrying is that Messi's stats are getting worse. This season he's failed to score a full half of the penalties he's taken: three out of six. Pacheco (Alavés), Rubén (Deportivo) and Diego López all guessed correctly and saved his effort. Curiously it was Diego López who was the first to stop a Messi penalty, back at Villarreal (and he's the first to stop two).
Messi hurt by derby miss
Messi's saved penalty in the derby, with Espanyol going on to win the first leg 1-0, left the Argentinean star hurt. And he was given permission by his coach Valverde to miss training yesterday. But he's already looking towards the second leg (next Thursday 21:30 CET) to ensure that his spot-kick failure can be redeemed and won't rankle further, like the two most painful penalties of his career. Firstly, in the semi-finals of the Champions League in 2012, with the score at 2-1 against Chelsea (1-0 in the first leg at Stamford Bridge), facing Petr Cech. The ball hit the crossbar and Barça ended up crashing out, finally killed off by Fernando Torres.
Worse though was the spot-kick in the final of the Copa América Centenario in 2016, when Messi, facing Bravo, fired the ball into the stands with the first penalty of the shoot-out. Argentina ended up losing and an impotent, tearful Messi announced his retirement from international football. (A brief earthquake, in the end, he soon changed his mind).
Messi: just normal
To put the numbers into some context, it must be noted that over the history of LaLiga 27% of the penalties taken have been missed or saved, and Messi with Barça is doing better than that with a failure rate of 24.4%. Curiously though, penalties have got better over time - in the period 28-29 to 49-50 a full 33% of penalties failed to trouble the onion bag; from 50-51 to 69-70 the rate fell to 28%; between 70-71 and 99-00 it was 25% and from 00-01 to 17-18 it's 24%. Meaning that while Messi is better than the all time average, he's just normal for his period. Messi just normal, it's not often that gets written...
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