Which World Cup team is the worst at penalty shootouts?

Spain are historically poor in World Cup penalty shootouts
Spain are historically poor in World Cup penalty shootouts / BSR Agency/GettyImages

They say penalty shootouts are a lottery, but a lot of World Cup teams won't agree. More often than not, the sting of a side's elimination on spot kicks makes more of a media dent than the successful team's progression.

For every Fabio Grosso, there's a Roberto Baggio. For every Giazka Mendieta, there's an Eloy. For every Eric Dier, there's a Stuart Pearce, Chris Waddle, David Batty, Frank Lampard, Steven Gerrard - you get the idea.

When the pressure piles on, these teams crumble time and time again in men's World Cup penalty shootouts.

Worst penalty shootout records at the World Cup

Spain stole the title of worst penalty shootout participants when they were knocked out of the 2022 World Cup by Morocco in the last 16.

La Roja have now been eliminated from the competition four times in total, exiting by the same method in their last two campaigns.

That defeat takes them clear of England - who could still equal the record during the knockout stages of the 2022 World Cup - and Italy.

  • Spain - 4 (1986, 2002, 2018, 2022)
  • England - 3 (1990, 1998, 2006)
  • Italy - 3 (1990, 1994, 1998)

Spain in World Cup penalty shootouts

Spain came up against some focused Belgians as they tasted defeat in their first World Cup penalty shootout, with Eloy the only player to miss from ten efforts.

La Roja were involved in both of 2002's penalty shootouts. Their one victory to date came when they unconvincingly saw off the Republic of Ireland 3-2, with Juanfran and Juan Carlos Valeron both missing.

An incredibly controversial quarter final against South Korea where Spain wrongly had goals chalked off eventually ended in their elimination, Joaquin's miss from the spot proving decisive.

They wouldn't feature in a shootout en route to victory in 2010 but were eliminated by that method eight years later against hosts Russia. Koke and Iago Aspas were the unlucky players to miss that day.

Their fourth and most recent penalty shootout elimination came in 2022. After 120 goalless minutes against Morocco in the last 16 in which Spain completed 926 passes, Pablo Sarabia hit the post and Carlos Soler and Sergio Busquets missed, allowing Achraf Hakimi to Panenka the winner against the country of his birth.

England in World Cup penalty shootouts

The mere mention of the words 'penalty shootout' will draw the most violent of glances from England fans.

They seemed to vanquish a lot of demons at the 2018 World Cup when they beat Colombia on penalties in the last 16, but they were again made to suffer from the spot in the Euro 2020 final when they were beaten by Italy at Wembley.

Stuart Pearce and Chris Waddle were the original heartbreakers for the Three Lions faithful when they missed against West Germany in 1990, while eight years later failed attempts from Paul Ince and David Batty saw Argentina progress.

England made it three consecutive World Cup penalty shootout defeats in 2006, going out to Portugal as Frank Lampard, Steven Gerrard and Jamie Carragher all missed. They had been beaten by the Ricardo-inspired Selecao the same way two years prior at Euro 2004.

Italy in World Cup penalty shootouts

Italy are the only other side along with England to have been beaten in three consecutive World Cup penalty shootouts. With all three coming in the 1990s, you can imagine it isn't a fondly remembered era for Azzurri supporters.

Things were going swimmingly against Argentina in 1990 before misses from Roberto Donadoni and Aldo Serena ended that semi-final shootout. Four years later, Roberto Baggio's infamous spot kick coupled with failed efforts from Franco Baresi and Massaro saw Italy beaten by Brazil in the final in Pasadena.

Demetrio Albertini and Luigi Di Biagio were the villains as Italy went out to France in the 1998 quarter finals, but it ended up being fourth time lucky when the Azzurri won the tournament in 2006, beating Les Bleus 5-3 in Berlin.

Which teams have never won a World Cup penalty shootout?

Mexico, Romania and Japan have each had two attempts to secure World Cup penalty shootout glory and scuppered both opportunities. They are joined as sides with 0% success rates in shootouts by Yugoslavia, Switzerland, Ghana, Chile, Greece, Colombia and Denmark, all of whom lost the only shootout they have been involved in.