Who is the main penalty taker for each country at the 2022 World Cup? Complete list of players expected to step up for their nation in Qatar

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Igor Akinfeev saves Iago Aspas' penalty as Russia knock Spain out of the 2018 World Cup
FIFA via Getty Images

There are few situations in sport that are as tense as when a footballer steps up to take a penalty from the spot kick. 

Elevate that situation to be at a World Cup and the stakes don't get much higher with the hopes of a whole nation sat on the player's shoulders. 

With the 2018 World Cup in Russia seeing the most penalties ever awarded at a single edition in competition history, the 2022 edition could follow suit especially with the use of VAR which inflated those amounts four years ago.

Below we look at which player is likely to step up first for each nation at the 2022 tournament when called up and assess their previous success rate from the spot for both club and country. 

MORE: Ranking the best 2022 World Cup jerseys: The top 10 kits on display in Qatar

List of penalty takers for each nation at the 2022 World Cup

Although it's impossible to know for certain which player will step up when a penalty is awarded at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, here's our list of players that we expect to be picked first by each national team manager if needed during the tournament:

Nation Main penalty taker Success rate for national team Success rate for club
Argentina Lionel Messi 78% (18 of 23) 78.5% (95 of 121)
Australia Jason Cummings 100% (1 of 1) 86.3% (19 of 22)
Belgium Romelu Lukaku 100% (5 of 5) 83.3% (25 of 30)
Brazil Neymar 88% (23 of 26) 80.9% (51 of 63)
Cameroon Vincent Aboubakar 100% (5 of 5) 100% (15 of 15)
Canada Junior Hoilett 75% (3 of 4) 40% (2 of 5)
Costa Rica Celso Borges 80% (4 of 5) 70% (7 of 10)
Croatia Luka Modric 72.7% (8 of 11) 100% (12 of 12)
Denmark Christian Eriksen 85.7% (12 of 14) N/A
Ecuador Enner Valencia 62.5% (5 of 8) 75% (21 of 28)
England Harry Kane 84.2% (16 of 19)  84.7% (39 of 46)
France Kylian Mbappe 75% (3 of 4) 82.6% (19 of 23) 
Germany Ilkay Gundogan 100% (6 of 6) 75% (6 of 8)
Ghana Jordan Ayew 100% (3 of 3) 100% (7 of 7)
Iran Karim Ansarifard 66% (2 of 3) 88.8% (8 of 9)
Japan Takumi Minamino 100% (2 of 2) N/A
Mexico Raul Jimenez 92.3% (12 of 13) 95% (19 of 20)
Morocco Sofiane Boufal 100% (3 of 3) 100% (9 of 9)
Netherlands Memphis Depay 76.9% (10 of 13) 75.9% (22 of 29)
Poland Robert Lewandowski 92.3% (12 of 13) 89.4% (59 of 66)
Portugal Cristiano Ronaldo 76.1% (16 of 21) 85.4% (129 of 151) 
Qatar  Akram Afif 83.3% (5 of 6) 100% (10 of 10)
Saudi Arabia Salem Al-Dawsari 60% (3 of 5) 100% (6 of 6)
Senegal Sadio Mane 78.6% (11 of 14) 25% (1 of 4)
Serbia Aleksandar Mitrovic 83.3% (5 of 6) 70.4% (19 of 27)
South Korea Son Heung-Min 62.5% (5 of 8) 66% (2 of 3)
Spain Alvaro Morata 80% (4 of 5)  90.9% (10 of 11)
Switzerland Ricardo Rodriguez 60% (6 of 10) 88.8% (16 of 18)
Tunisia Wahbi Khazri 50% (4 of 8) 90.5% (19 of 21)
Uruguay Luis Suarez 93.3% (14 of 15) 79.2% (38 of 48)
USA Christian Pulisic 100% (6 of 6) N/A
Wales Gareth Bale 75% (6 of 8) 83.3% (5 of 6)

2022 World Cup penalty record

This list will be updated following the awarding and subsequent outcome of every penalty at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

Player Fixture Outcome
Enner Valencia Ecuador v Qatar Scored
Mehdi Taremi Iran v England Scored
Gareth Bale Wales v USA Scored
Lionel Messi Argentina v Saudi Arabia Scored
Robert Lewandowski Poland v Mexico  Missed
Ferran Torres Spain v Costa Rica Scored
Ilkay Gundogan Germany v Japanese Scored
Alphonso Davis Belgium v Canada Missed
Cristiano Ronaldo Portugal v Ghana Scored
Salem Al Dawasri Saudi Arabia v Poland Missed
Ismaila Sarr Senegal vs Ecuador Scored
Lionel Messi Argentina vs Poland Missed
Robert Lewandowski Poland vs France Scored
Neymar Brazil vs South Korea Scored

How many penalties were awarded at the 2018 World Cup?

Forever remembered as the first World Cup to introduce VAR, it perhaps isn't surprising therefore that the 2018 World Cup in Russia set all sorts of penalty records across competition history.

Remarkably, the 2018 edition saw 24 penalties awarded in the group stage alone, more than any other full tournament combined throughout history as referees grappled with the still new technology and rules surrounding spot kicks.

In the end, 29 penalties were awarded during the tournament altogether, 11 more than any other edition had ever seen previously. 

How many penalties can we expect to be awarded at the 2022 World Cup?

Working on an average of penalties awarded across the last ten World Cup tournaments, the 2022 edition in Qatar is likely to see around 17 penalties given by referees.

That said, with the use of VAR - which led to a record amount at the last World Cup in Russia when in first use - that figure could be slightly inflated as a result this time around in Qatar.

Amount of penalties awarded at the last ten World Cups

Tournament Penalties awarded
1982 10
1986 16
1990 18
1994 15
1998 18
2002 18
2006 17
2010 14
2014 13
2018 29

Has the World Cup ever been won on penalties?

Since the inaugural World Cup in 1930, there have been 21 finals to date, 14 of which have been decided in normal time.

An additional five of those matches have been settled during extra time - including two of the last three World Cup finals - which means that two have previously been won via a penalty shoot-out. 

The first of those came during the 1994 World Cup final between Brazil and Italy in which the South American side came out victorious.

Romario, Branco and Dunga all scored for the record five-time World Cup champions, though it was Italian midfielder Roberto Baggio who made the headlines for all the wrong reasons, missing the crucial penalty by chipping over the bar. 

Roberto Baggio

The second World Cup final to be won on penalties came in 2006 when Italy defeated France 5-3 on spot kicks at the Olympiastadion in Berlin.

In a match that will always be remembered for Zinedine Zidane's famous headbutt, it was defender Fabio Grosso who scored the vital penalty for Italy to send the trophy home to the European nation for the fourth time. 

How many penalty shoot-outs have there been at the World Cup and which country has the best success rate? 

Across all previous editions of the World Cup combined, 30 ties have had to be decided by a penalty shoot-out. 

The first of them saw West Germany defeat France 5-4 on spot kicks during the 1982 tournament, whilst the last witnessed Croatia beat Russia 4-3 on penalties at the 2018 World Cup. 

Germany and Argentina hold the record for scoring the most penalties in shoot-outs at the World Cup across all previous editions combined. 

Both nations have netted 17 times in such occasions, with the Germans in particular impressing by scoring 17 of their 18 shoot-out spot kicks (94.4% on average).

Belgium, South Korea and Paraguay all hold a 100% success-rate in previous World Cup penalty shoot-outs, scoring five from five attempts, though it's Switzerland who hold the worst conversion record, missing all three of their such attempts. 

Of all nations to have taken ten or more penalties in World Cup shoot-outs previously, England hold the worst conversion rate at 57.9%, scoring just 19 of their 30 attempts.

England penalty shootout Euro 2020
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Nathan Evans is a data editor for The Sporting News.