Corner kicks offer soccer teams unique, all-important scoring opportunities. In fact, it can be argued that executing on free kicks can be one of the most important factors in deciding a soccer game. The best professional teams have multiple strategies on corner kicks so they can put the ball in the back of the net more often. From short passes to far post opportunities or delayed runs and crashing the net — there is a golden opportunity for teams to take advantage of. Making your team’s corner kicks dangerous is easy with these tips from CoachUp:
Mesut Ozil, Eden Hazard, David Silva — What do all these playmakers have in common? They’re all phenomenal passers that take the role of corner kick takers for their teams. The player needs to deliver accurate passes through the air and, ideally, be able to put it wherever they want. The kicker’s job is to play a pass that does a few things. Firstly, the pass should cause the goalkeeper to hesitate. It should be aimed at a place where the goalie can’t decide whether he should try to catch the ball or stay on the goal line. Secondly, a corner should be put where nobody else can get to it but the target. Inaccurate corners can lead to counter-attacks, easy clearances, and frustration.
Positioning + Runs
Like a betting poker player, the offense holds all the cards and momentum on corners. In order to make the most of the opportunities, offensive players use positioning and runs to their advantage. Teams often send tall defenders into the box on corners to provide an even larger target. For Arsenal, that means sending in their Vice Captain, Per Mertesacker. At a towering 6’6, Mertesacker on corners means two things: a big target or an even bigger distraction. When teams must pay extra attention to large players, it may leave other threats unmarked.
Crowding the box is an often used strategy as well that operates on a simple ideal: creating chaos. The more danger and distraction there is around a keeper, the more likely it is for a goal to slip by. Of course, offensive players cannot physically touch the keeper, but attempting to block his view can always make things more difficult — the less visibility for a keeper, the better results for offensive teams.
Just kicking the corner doesn’t promise success, however, and that will almost always be determined by the quality of runs by the offensive side. In basic terms, teams will often send a player to the near post, far post, and towards the keeper to clean up rebounds from the aforementioned chaos. Teams find success when they leave two players or so without runs at the top of the box. This way, they can keep possession in the offensive third and reduce the opportunity of a counter-attack from the defensive side.
(Related: Read about defending set pieces here.)
Huddle Up Remember, there’s no set rules for a corner– so be creative and confuse that defense! If a team is truly committed towards positive results on a corner, they won’t take the creative opportunity lightly! Teams will deploy a reliable, accurate player at the flag and a large target in the middle. Additionally, the situation will call for different strategies; but make sure to change it up with short and long crosses, mixed with delayed runs! Once you’re able to get a team frantically defending on their toes, it’s all just a matter of time until you breakthrough.
Be prepared for the biggest moments by mastering the small ones off the field.