Penalty Problems

Recently I have been updating a list of the most recent penalties in the Champions League knock-out phase and, also by the amount of reactions, I think it is quite interesting: only four of the last thirteen penalties in the Champions League KO round have been scored; a not so staggering 31%.

Champions League penalties (KO phase, since 2016)
Champions League penalties (KO phase, since 2016)

Although this also includes penalties from last season I got the feeling that this season a very low percentage of penalties are converted in the top European leagues. Time for some numbers.

Champions League

As seen before; four of the five penalties in the current Round of 16 have been missed (and by quite some players as well: Aubameyang, Alexis Sánchez, Falcao and Angel Correa). Since the beginning of this edition this record is a bit better, but far from impressive: 26 goals from 42 penalty kicks, a 62% conversion rate. The lowest in the last 12 UCL seasons (all data I have), except for .. last edition! When only 58% of the awarded penalties were scored.

Champions League penalty conversion percentage
Champions League penalty conversion percentage

A noteworthy downfall in the accuracy of the penalty takers, but with a Z-score of -1,4 not a really extraordinary case.

Europa League

What about the Europa League I can hear everyone ask! As the Europa League started only in the 2010/11 season and I have no data from the UEFA cup there is less data here:

Champions League penalty conversion percentage
Champions League penalty conversion percentage

Fewer penalties are converted than last season, but 80% is still pretty high. It seems that previous editions had such a high penalty conversion rate that this 80% is a healthy regression to the mean. But still, also the Europa League sees one of its lowest penalty conversions.

Top-4 European leagues

In the top-4 European leagues the same trend is visible. Except for the Premier League, where the current penalty conversion rate is higher than the average:

Top-4 league penalty conversion (missing data from Serie A)
Top-4 league penalty conversion (missing fours seasons of data from Serie A)

The Bundesliga is seeing the penalty conversion at its lowest percentage (67%) in the serie of 12 seasons. The same goes up for la LaLiga, where only the first season in the series of 12 seasons saw an equally low conversion (69%). The Serie A, for which less data is available, also has its second lowest conversion in eight years (71%). Only the Premier League is an exception; it actually has the second highest conversion (82%) taking the last 12 season into consideration. Also it is a lot better (11-15%!) than the other leagues.


Combining all penalty data from the discussed leagues (n = 4871), we get the following graph:

2016/17 penalty conversion percentage
2016/17 penalty conversion percentage

The 2016/17 season equals 2005/06 for the worst (72%) season when it comes to converting spot kicks. Only 1,5 times the standard deviation under the average it is not the strangest thing that has ever happened, but it will we interesting to see whether the percentage remains this low. Meanwhile I am hoping for some misses in the Champions League so I can keep posting the earlier mentioned tweet.

Data from, and


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s