The mind games of Tim Krul
Photo: Getty Images

Here we go. Pick your spot. Don't change. Just me and the ball. Just me and the ba... Just me and the b... Just me and Tim Krul. 

Why's he trying to talk to me? I've seen him do this before...

The memory

Rewind almost six years to the 2014 World Cup. It's the quarter-finals of the competition and a goalless scoreline between Netherlands and Costa Rica ticks into the final minute. The ball goes out of play. The board goes up. Not for the amount of injury-time but for a penalty specialist. But not a player who is about to take one...

Jasper Cillessen kicks a water bottle in frustration. A huge risk as Tim Krul dons the gloves for the penalty shootout. His tactic? Talk to every player stepping up to the spot.

Krul admitted to BBC Sport after the shootout, "I told them I knew where they were going because I had analysed it. It worked."

He spoke to every player. And saved two penalties as Netherlands won 4-3. The risk paid off.

The mind games

How's he got so much energy? He's pumping his gloves together. Where is he going? There's notes on that water bottle.

He must have done his research. Does he know where I normally go? Should I go the other side to where I normally go? Does he know that I know he is thinking what way I am going to go? Where do I go?

Tottenham Hotspur should never have been in that situation. 1-0 up against the side that have failed to earn a point after going a goal behind all seasonMichel Vorm spilled a Kenny McLean effort into the path of Josip Drmic who bundled the ball home.

Vorm, who was the third goalkeeper in that Netherlands squad.

Krul would go on to overshadow his compatriot oncemore in the shootout, Vorm saving one but Krul keeping out two as Norwich progressed to the FA Cup quarter-finals. But has he always been that good at saving penalties?

Embed from Getty Images

Mind games of the memory

Ironically, Krul has only saved six of the 51 penalties he has faced excluding shootouts - and three of those have come this season.

When he made history in the World Cup, Krul had contributed just two saves from 32 penalties in all competitions, 20 in the Premier League. David Dunn and Frank Lampard were the unlucky duo.

But this season, Krul's record is 50%, three saves (if you include Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang's overturned miss) from six penalties, five from eleven alongside Wednesday evening's heroics.

Familiar penalty foes

33% of Krul's Premier League penalty saves have come against Manchester United - both in the same game as he kept out Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial.

But Rashford scored from the spot in the return fixture. (Aubameyang also netted when he took his penalty again).

United are the one English club Krul has saved more penalties from than he has conceded during 90 minutes. Their opponents in the FA Cup Quarter-Finals? Manchester United.

Incidentally, the man who made the bold decision in that World Cup games was Louis van Gaal, who left Netherlands to join United after the tournament. Sacked two years later, he was replaced by Jose Mourinho, the losing manager on Wednesday.

Sacked two years later, Mourinho was replaced at Old Trafford by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer...

Should I have missed? Penalties are all about the mind games.

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