Set-piecesWritten by tbendis
Set-pieces are becoming a more important part of modern day football with each passing year. With the introduction of sophisticated sports-science technology and the improvement of people’s knowledge of fitness and diet, people, and footballers as a result, have become physically stronger and well-tuned, meaning aerial battles are contested much more frequently in the current era of football than they were twenty years ago.
Direct Free KicksThe most important attribute for a free-kick taker to have is Free Kick Taking, to state the obvious. However, that does not make this the only important skill. For a free-kick taker to be able to create a goalscoring opportunity for others, or to threaten the goal himself, he needs to have a good Technique, as well as at least one more good attribute among Passing, Crossing, and Long Shots. It all depends on what kind of free-kick you want to be taken.
If you are a team without much physical presence, you will be looking to score directly from your free-kicks. Otherwise, the other team will find it easy to beat your diminutive team to the ball, provided they are not as diminutive as your team. In this case, you will want to have someone who has high Free-Kick Taking and Long Shots attributes, as well as Technique . Ideally, your set-piece maestro should have the Preferred Player Move "Tries long range free kicks", otherwise when he could theoretically take a set-piece from reasonable shooting range, he might make a short pass instead.
There are not too many variables in this situation, your player will either score, or he doesn’t. It is, however, the only way you're going to score with a physically weak team.
Corners and indirect Free KicksLet’s move on to corners and free-kicks in non-shooting areas. In general, a football team will have two tall, strong central defenders, a physically capable defence minded midfielder, and maybe even a target man too. You will want to have your aerial threats in the positions which they are most dangerous. These positions are at either post, or attacking the six-yard box. If you have the players needed to threaten from these positions, your set-piece taker will have a variety of targets to attempt to feed the ball to.
How to deal with defending team attacking on the breakNot many teams can score from every set-piece which they have, and a lot of the time, the defending team will get the opportunity to attack you on the break while the majority of your team is still in their box. For this reason, you need to have sufficient cover to deny the opposition the chance to score on the break. This means that you should have at least two, if not three, players standing on the halfway line ready for any attempt which the opposition makes to score on break.
Set-piece routine if you don't lose the ballLet's assume you don't lose the ball. How do you take a set-piece so that everything works out? If your team lacks a set-piece taker who can supply his team mates with quality crosses into the box, or if your team lacks the height needed to challenge for these balls, it just becomes a piece of luck and determination by your players. If you are using a better team with a player who is capable of taking quality set-pieces, and you do have the players to challenge in the air, there are a number of set-piece strategies which you can utilise. The most favoured set-piece routine is to have your set-piece taker aim for the near post, and to have your most lethal players (aerially) either set to “Near Post Flick On” or to “Attack Near Post”. Your third most lethal player is set to “Challenge Keeper”, and you can have your other players attacking the far post, or wherever else inside or outside the box. What this does is it takes the opposition goalkeeper almost out of the equation. A near post cross is almost uncatchable for a goalkeeper, and your players are more likely to get to the ball before your opposition, thus giving you a better chance of scoring.
Corner Taker - “Aim for near post”. Three players with highest Heading - "Attack near post", "Near post flick on", “Challenge Keeper”. At least two players - “Stay Back”
Free-kicks are a little different. We all want that ideal free-kick taker, but, barring the fact that you already have him in your squad, they're pretty damned hard to get. The ones that are available, however, are so highly valued that most teams are priced out of any chance of purchasing that player. Even if you do manage to sign a set-piece specialist, it could take years for them to perfect their set-pieces into the routine which you are looking for. If you are in this situation, you could let your set-piece taker have the freedom to create an opportunity which he envisions. Who knows, maybe he can see something which you can’t.
So that is a brief summary of set-pieces, an important aspect of modern day football. If you can dominate from set-pieces, you have a very powerful weapon. While not essential, a lot of goals come from set-pieces, so you should look to take advantage of these opportunities.