Set Pieces; Making The Most Of It

In the not too distant past, I made a well-read blog post on set pieces,  which was pretty much by the book, standardised approaches to set pieces. I’m not knocking those approaches and I still stand by them, but part of me is always looking for room to improve on the setup I am using. Whilst I really do realise perfection is nigh impossible to achieve, chasing it relentlessly will improve the chances of being excellent. Just being good just won’t do.

This focus on improvement is easy for set pieces as set plays, by their premeditated nature, offer a relatively consistent level of defensive and attacking opportunity and by looking at the effectiveness of teams against a variety of different opponents, we may be able to further improve upon the setup I described earlier. In this blog post, I’m trying to think outside the box.

Thinking Outside The Box Really Means Outside The Box For FM15

The traditional approach would be all about the critical delivery area just outside the five yard box but before the penalty spot, far enough from the goal to make it difficult for the goalkeeper to come out to catch or punch, particularly when players are positioned around him, block his path and obstructing his line of view. It’s a traditional approach and always effective, but not really innovative.

As I said in the title for this section though, thinking outside the box in terms of set piece plays really does mean thinking outside the box. I would be a massive tease if I didn’t show you what I mean by that, so let’s just skip the long and infuriating foreplay and get right to it.

The new setup focusses on isolating one or two players in a position where they can receive the ball with time to play the ball or take a shot. The key element here is getting players in a position where they are not properly marked by the opposing team. The distribution of players scattered around the box is the key element here.

How To Make This Work; Keeping It Simple Seems To Work

Basically, the new system is all about simplicity, most systems work best if they are kept simple rather than made complicated; therefore simplicity should be a key goal in design and unnecessary complexity should be avoided. Looking at the system I am using now, we can all agree that it can’t get much simpler.


Over half the team on default settings, short corner kicks and you’re not relying on some overpowered beast of a player to batter the ball past the opposing keeper, instead relying on vision, passing and finesse. Not bad in terms of keeping it simple, right? Even isolating the players seems to work reasonably easy. No fancy tricks or artificial tricking the AI, just crowding the box and leaving a few players back. In-game, that will result in situations like this.


This scenario offers two lurkers on the edge of the penalty area. The most common scenario focusses on a low drive towards the closest midfielder, who will control the ball and look for a passing option inside the box to seal the deal.

When the initial pass fails, the second lurker acts as a failsafe, who can pick up the ball, recycle possession and start the cycle all over.

In some cases, the opposing team even tries marking the initial recipient or tries rushing him, to block off the passing-lanes inside the box. A wee flick to the side will suffice to bring the second lurker into play.

And there you have it. Simplicity triumphs and offers you a new take on your set pieces.

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