They’re known in by soccer world simply as MSN. In a span of less than a year, Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar have become the most lethal partnership in the world. Historically, they’re the most productive goal-scoring trio the game has ever seen. Their ability to decide games in a matter of seconds is capable of driving any defender absolutely crazy. Willing to assist each other and share the spotlight, the unselfishness between the three South Americans has created a brotherhood as they quickly conquer the soccer world. Nonetheless, they are human. They’re combined 137 goals in 2015 tends to make us forget that they are not in fact from another planet but the reality is, like all humans, they have a weakness.
Since the beginning of the 2015-2016 season, Barcelona has missed 9 out of their 18 penalties awarded in La Liga. Balon D’Or winner Lionel Messi has made only 2 out of the 5 he’s taken given him a conversion rate of 40%. Neymar has made 3 out of the 5 he’s taken giving him a conversion rate of 60%. Lastly, top leading scorer in La Liga, Luis Suarez, has scored just 1 out of the 3 he’s taken given him an awful 33.3% conversion rate. In La Liga, no player has a worse record after taking 3 shots than Neymar, Barcelona’s highest efficient taker.
To put such a statistic in simpler terms lets put it in a different context. In basketball, a free throw is the nearest equivalent of a penalty kick. This season in the NBA, the average free throw percentage is 75.6%. In football’s case, naturally, a field goal could be compared to a penalty kick. In the NFL, no active kicker shot has a worse lifetime field goal percentage than Billy Cundiff’s 76.1%.
So what exactly is going on with MSN? They score world-class goals week in and week out but they choke from 12 steps out? It can’t be that they suffer from nervousness. They’re 3 of the best players in the world who have all scored in the biggest stages in world soccer when all the eyes are on them. I guess it’s a mystery that even the world’s best scientist can’t figure out. Perhaps they’re becoming frustrated with their ongoing struggles from the spot and pressure builds up after every miss. Maybe instead of perfecting so many magical shots during practice, maybe they should take 30 minutes out of your day to work on penalties.