Tuesday archive: Keep them guessing

From 17th June, 2006:

It may surprise casual observers of the beautiful game to discover that one of the heroes of English football this year was a German. Jens Lehmann, the Arsenal goalkeeper, saved a last-minute penalty against the Spanish side, Villarreal, thus earning Arsenal a coveted spot in the Champions League final.

Penalties pit the goalkeeper against a lone striker in a mentally demanding contest. Once the penalty-taker strikes the ball, it takes 0.3 seconds to hit the back of the net – unless the goalkeeper can somehow get his body in the way. That is simply not enough time for the keeper to pick out the trajectory of the ball and intercept it. He must guess where the striker will shoot and move just as the ball is being struck. If Lehmann had not guessed correctly, he wouldn’t have been a hero.

Continued at timharford.com.

Tim Harford’s blog

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Tim, also known as the Undercover Economist, writes about the economics of everyday life.