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Wayne Rooney, Luis Suarez masters of the fading art of long-range shooting

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In every Premier League season since 2009-10, there had been at least one goal scored from 35 metres out or beyond. The peak was in 2013-14, when five long-rangers found the back of the net, while the average from 2009-10 through 2017-18 was just under two and a half howitzers per season. The high-water mark for total attempts was 81 in 2011-12, while the average through 2017-18 was 70 per year.

Then came last year: no goals from that distance and only 42 attempts, numbers that are unlikely to tick back up any time soon.

In the five Premier League seasons before the 2014 World Cup, the season-by-season average was 77.4 shots from 35 metres or more. The low was 73. The year immediately following Germany’s triumph in Brazil back in 2010, that number plummeted down to 49, and it hasn’t crept up above 54 since. In fact, the current season was on pace to drag the bar down even lower; there have been just 19 long-distance attempts even though roughly 75% of games are already in the books.cheap nike nfl jersey

So, did everyone buy into the 2010 World Cup winners’ style and try to copycat their way to “German efficiency” after Jogi Low & Co. took home the trophy? Not quite, although there’s no one reason these long-range strikes have diminished in recent years. Rather, it’s likely a confluence of factors.5

Luis Suarez left Liverpool for Barcelona that summer, and he’d led the league in distance drives (six) during the prior season. Andre Villas-Boas’s Tottenham were infamous for their terrible shot selection, and he was fired midway through the 2013-14 campaign. On top of that, analytics — especially the concept of expected goals — started to gain a tenuous foothold right on the outskirts of the mainstream right around 2013. Since then, teams in all of Europe’s big leagues have crept closer and closer to goal with their average attempts in each passing season.

If some coaches and players are vaguely aware of the importance of shot quality — i.e. the closer you are to the goal, the more likely you are to score — then it stands to reason that the most egregious violations, the shots that almost never go in, would be the first ones to disappear.

But in sports, there’s nothing quite like a goal from 40 yards out; the sheer audacity of the attempt combined with the sheer improbability, plus the outsized impact on the outcome of the game it can have. Each one requires an individual to grab hold of what’s supposed to be the ultimate team game and risk looking like a complete idiot.cheap nfl nike jerseys china

The goal that Clarence Seedorf scored against Atletico Madrid back in 1998 is still almost beyond comprehension. It’s like he put reality on fast-forward, and it’s unlikely we’ll see many goals like this ever again. Is that a bad thing, from an aesthetic perspective? Maybe not. While we might be losing the occasional joy emitted by a successful screamer, we’re also being spared from the dull monotony of the more likely outcome: a ball launched into the stands or fluttering meekly into a keeper’s waiting arms.

But before we move on from the long-distance shot era, let’s take a look at some of the fading art’s foremost practitioners, for better or worse. All stats are from Europe’s Big Five leagues for the 2009-10 season through today.

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