Most footballers have a preferred foot. Take Arjen Robben, for example, the Dutchman has an almost unmatched left foot, which he makes full use of as he cuts from his customary right wing position and takes a swing at goal with his preferred foot. His dexterity with his left foot is unparalleled and when he lets one rip with his preferred foot the opposition are left gasping.
Similarly, Barcelona frontman Luis Suarez possesses a lethal right foot. The Uruguay international rarely misses a goal scoring opportunity when he has a chance to shoot with his preferred foot. Bayern Munich star Robert Lewandowski is equally devastating with his right foot and this year he has especially been at his imperious best when it comes to scoring goals.
Lionel Messi also possesses an incredible left foot and prefers to get the ball to his preferred foot. Cristiano Ronaldo, on the other hand, has a lethal right foot. The Argentina international prefers to use his left foot while taking set-pieces and other dead ball situations like taking a free-kick or a spot-kick. The Portugal national team captain invariably prefers to use his right foot in dead ball situations and is more often than not deadly in his execution.
However, it doesn’t mean that the players are one-footed. In fact, the two are more than capable of making a difference while using their “weaker foot.”
Last season, Messi was often scoring goals with his right foot, as if proving that he is equally capable no matter which foot he uses during the course of a match. The forward went on to score 62 goals through the course of the 2014/15 season for club and country. His goals helped Barcelona clinch their second treble – of the league title, the Champions League and the Copa del Rey – in six years. Under his leadership, the Argentina national team made it to the final of the Copa America held in Chile in the summer – although they finished runners-up behind Chile after losing in a penalty shootout.
Of the 62 goals, 39 came off his favored left foot, while 17 were scored with his right foot. He headed in six goals. While taking dead ball situations, Messi slotted in seven penalties and a solitary free-kick, all of which were put past the goalkeepers using his left foot.
A total of 27.5% of the Argentine’s goals came off his left foot, not bad for any player on his “wrong foot.”
Ronaldo scored 60 goals in the 2014/15 season for club and country. His strikes enabled Real Madrid to win the European Super Cup as well as the Club World Cup. They also finished runners-up in the Spanish title race and narrowly lost in the semi-final of the Champions League to Italian champions Juventus.
The Portuguese international scored 34 goals with his right foot, while 12 of his goals came off his left foot. He scored 11 spot-kicks with his right and also headed in 14 goals.
A total of 20% of his goals with his “weaker foot”, i.e., one in five, which is not bad by any yardstick.
One thing is clear: opposition cannot afford to relax when the ball is with Messi or Ronaldo, no matter the foot.