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Game Theory and the 2008 UEFA Champions League Final

Mark Johnston

28th August 2015

Just starting game theory with my A2 students and economists hold in high regard the penalty kick as a real-life example.

Technically the kicker and the goalkeeper play a zero-sum game – any gain for one player is exactly offset by the loss to the other side.

If you have read Soccernomics you will be well aware of the events that unfolded in the final between Manchester Utd and Chelsea in 2008.

Basque economist Ignacio Palacios-Huerta had been recording how penalties were being taken and wrote an academic paper on strategies that players and goalkeepers employed. A mutual friend of Ignacio and Chelsea manager, Avram Grant, brought the two men together and subsequently Ignacio sent Grant some facts regarding Man Utd in particular about their goalkeeper Van der Sar.

There were 4 main points:

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