THE IMPORTANCE OF SET PIECES

The importance of set pieces cannot be underestimated. A bit of time taken in planning and practising them can pay big dividends as has been shown in this year’s World Cup so far.

Half of the matches played so far have been decided by a goal scored from a set piece, while half of the total goals scored in the competition have been from dead ball situations (corners, free-kicks, throw-ins and penalties).

England demonstrated that they know the importance of set pieces and the advantage it can give them. They utilised set pieces to full effect in their victory over Tunisia with well worked corner kicks which resulted in both of their goals and could have easily led to more than just two.

They used an aggressive approach, with six attackers in the penalty box.

First of all, they lined up with a 4v3 on the edge of the penalty area featuring their best headers of the ball (Stones, Maguire, Kane).

From those four, Henderson is the one to make the first run to drag the defence back towards goal and create space for others by the penalty spot.

The other two players are around the six yard box, forcing defenders to sit deeper towards their own goal and limit the possibility of being caught offside on the 2nd ball.

Then the key to scoring the goals is anticipating the second ball. Kane makes the run to the back post, and is in a good position for any knockdowns or rebounds off the goalkeeper.

Kane makes that same run each time and capitalises with two goals and could have possibly scored a couple more from very similar situations.

You can tell that this is a very deliberate ploy used by the England team and something they have worked on. For the expert lip readers amongst you, you’ll be able to see Gareth Southgate say “where’s Harry?” as he watches on as Stones’ header is parried by the goalkeeper for England’s first goal.

Globall Coach is a tool extensively used by elite football clubs for their set piece programs. Technical staff can create detailed ‘playbooks’ to visualise their routines to then communicate, present and update them on the road. It’s refreshing to see the increased focus teams have deployed on set pieces and their resulting successes.