Managers, coaches, players and pundits alike often make reference to the importance of set plays, which can be a crucial means to force in a goal when things don’t look good during open play. 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 start to characterize what constitutes good set play defence and attack. In this article, I will look at a few attacking setups, why they are effective and of course the necessary downloads.

corners003

How to score goals from corners?

When you want to score a goal from corners, there are only a few possibilities to explore, not many avenues to go down. You can go for the traditionalist approach, which means lumping it toward the far post where some sort of unholy union between a man and a gorilla waits to batter it into the net. The far post corner setup is an old time favorite of the FM scene of course. You can go for a short corner and try to pass your way towards a goal. It looks nice, that’s for sure. There are also routines where people try to block opponents or lure them away to make space for other players. I’ll try to look at all these options.

The critical delivery area

Using what my old coaches taught me and what common sense dictates, I set out with some pretty hard-coded ideas about what would be the key area for set pieces, both defensively and attackingly. In my eyes, the critical area, where the battle is either won or lost, is the area between the 6-yard box and the penalty spot.

sp001

This area is 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. Similarly, this is the area you want to defend properly as well, as this is where the goals are being scored.

The critical positions need covering

As you progress through this article, you will notice the various setups actually have quite a few similarities. In every single one of my setups, I have players at both posts, challenging the keeper and lurking outside the penalty area. There is some common sense behind this entire setup, as you might have expected by now. Let’s just look at a match situation, the same one as above.

sp003

It’s a bit of a messy picture, but it shows you the basic setup and why I think those positions need covering. The AI almost always keeps two men on the posts, which means we can afford to spare a few men to stay back and snuff out counter-attacks. The other players are pretty evenly distributed throughout the penalty area, waiting for a chance to pounce. Depending on the distribution, there are players at both posts and in the central area, as well as potential rebounders. I’ve also noticed a tendency of the AI to place most defensive players near their own six yard area, so I want a few players waiting just beyond to pounce on rebounds, basically like the next few examples.

In both cases, the defence is able to succesfully defend the initial corner, but they are unable to clear the ball past the players waiting near the edge of the area and they make their presence felt in the follow-up, either hammering the ball home or find a team-mate in space to try and score a goal. Either way, it’s quite effective.

Another key feature, for me anyways, is the presence of a lurker. As I detailed in the picture above, I want a player who can recycle possession. Should the corner be defended, he should step in and reclaim the ball, starting a new attack. Defences which are shifting from defending a corner to possibly counter-attacking or even shifting towards their regular defensive shape are generally unorganised, which means there’s a possibility to exploit space and get a cheeky goal in. Just look at another prime example.

The initial corner is cleared and cleared properly. Whilst one of our midfielders track back to re-claim the ball, he could’ve let the lurking defensive midfielder handle this task as well. Either way, it underlines the importance of players lurking outside the box to recycle possession and snuff out counter-attacking threats.

You will also notice a player offering a short option in my setups. Sometimes this player becomes the actual corner-taker, which means nothing changes, but in some cases the short option player serves a different function. When I cannot break down an opposing defence because they are simply crowding the box and my lads can’t beat them in the air, offering a short option removes at least one defender from the penalty area, increasing your chances of finding a gap. An added benefit is that the short option can often sneak back into the box unmarked to offer an extra cheeky rebound, such as in this example.

The short option corner can be specifically effective when an opposing team is down to ten men, as the opposing team often can’t and won’t spare a man to mark someone outside their own box.

I do feel I need to highlight the role of an underrated player, as the player challenging the keeper really isn’t going to contribute in a sense of scoring goals himself, but he is crucial to our efforts. I realise he’s just there to hinder the goalkeeper, blocking the fast route away from his line and obstructing his line of view, but he does play an important. Especially when you use a tall player to challenge the keeper, the opposition will often sacrifice a defender to mark this player, which leads to a duo of jostling players right in front of the goalkeeper, which will seriously hinder the goalies’ ability to see what unfolds in front of him. This delayed goalkeeper response really helps our team score goals.

I reckon this pretty much covers the basic corner setup and the positions you should have covered somehow.

The corner taker

The positioning of the players at corners is just one element of the total sum that makes up a succesful corner-routine. Besides placing your players in key positions within the oppositions penalty area, you are also going to need some sort of delivery system, basically a player who can actually kick the ball quite accurately towards one your own men in the penalty area. For me, a good corner taker should possess the following attributes:

  • Anticipation; (how accurately can said player predict the movement of other players);
  • Corners; (how accurately can said player deliver the ball to its intended destination);
  • Composure; (how well can said player perform under pressure);
  • Decisions; (will said player make the right call under the circumstances he is in);
  • Vision; (how many options can said player distinguish on the pitch).

When I am looking for someone to take the corners, these are the attributes I look for.

The far post routine

As I mentioned before, this routine is an all-time favorite of the FM community. It’s been used extensively before so there’s not much innovation here. The setup is as simple as ABC. Stick a big guy on the far post and lump the ball towards the big guy. If executed properly, it should look a bit like this.

If you want to set up this routine, this is what it could roughly look like. There are probably dozens of similar setups possible. The key feature of this setup is that you send a strong header towards the near post, which is where the corner is supposed to end up.

sp004

Please note that this is just a rough template, which you can download right here if you’re so inclined, but that you should tweak the setup to suit the strengths of your players. If your defenders aren’t strong in the air, but your midfielders are, be sure to switch them around.

Executed properly, it should look a little something like this.

Naturally, your best headers should be situated near the far post, whereas your rebounders are situated at the near post. It’s not original, it’s not innovative, but when you have the right players (those being someone who can take a good corner and some aerial beasts), it’s a highly effective setup.

The near post routine

Aim corners to the near corner, have your strongest defender challenge the keeper, let your striker attack the near post, the other central defender the far post, post one player outside the box (attack from deep or lurk outside area), the wing backs stay back, and send the rest forward.

sp002

Please note that this is just a rough template, which you can download right here if you’re so inclined, but that you should tweak the setup to suit the strengths of your players. If your defenders aren’t strong in the air, but your midfielders are, be sure to switch them around.

Executed properly, it should look a little something like this.

Naturally, your best headers should be situated near the near post, whereas your rebounders are situated at the far post. An added benefit of what happens with this routine that the player on the near post flicks the ball back towards the edge of the area to offer one of the lurkers a chance to fire on goal.

All in all it’s quite a versatile routine, as long as you have at least one player who can win most of his headers.

The short option routine

Now before I expand here, please note that the effectiveness of the short corners has been toned down considerably since in Beta, goals like this were commonplace.

Since that was bordering on being an exploit, SI toned it down by having the short option player meticulously marked in most cases. Having said that, this setup still offers some added value in particular scenario’s and therefore cannot go missing from this article. The setup isn’t a particularly difficult one to set. This is the setup for corners from the left side, where the left-back is the one taking the corner.

corner

The corners from the right side are basically just mirrored, with the right-back taking the corner and the left-back staying back. Please note that this is just a rough concept, which you can download right here if you’re so inclined, you should always tweak it to match the qualities of your own players. If your defenders aren’t strong in the air, but your midfielders are, be sure to switch them around.

The setup relies on the concept of isolation, trying to find space for one particular player and then delivering the ball to said player. Ideally, this player has a good first touch and is able to finish properly, but as you can see from the next clip, it doesn’t matter if he’s not that good technically, with so many players in the penalty area, the ball can always take a lucky deflection somewhere along the way.

As I mentioned earlier, the effectiveness has been toned down, so when should you be using this setup? When the opposition has a man sent off, they often sacrifice sending someone out to cover the short corner option in order to protect the key area in their own penalty area, which should mean you can give it another go. It’s a niche routine, only applicable in specific situations. It does not however require any specialists, as pretty much any player can pass a corner into feet over a distance of 10 metres.

The mixed approach

You’ve seen the setups I have used succesfully in FM16 so far, but the approach that was by far the most effective is the mixed approach. I position the players as I mentioned above and set distribution to mixed. The players on the pitch are smart enough to pick their own corner takers and pick a pass properly, even when you’re managing Lower League teams. It also adds an element of surprise and some variation to the mix, which makes it harder for the AI to predict what you’re going to do.

sp005

Please note that this is just a rough concept, which you can download right here if you’re so inclined, you should always tweak it to match the qualities of your own players. If your defenders aren’t strong in the air, but your midfielders are, be sure to switch them around.

The mixed approach basically takes the best of all three routines described above and just assesses the situation and uses whatever should work best. It is also the setup that is the most demanding on your players, because you need at least three players who are strong in the air, a good corner taker and good rebounders. When you have it working though, you score a fair few goals from corners.

sp007

Please note that these statistics are slightly skewed as well, since flick-backs or goals coming from recycling possession are not counted as corner goals, whereas their build-up most definitely originated from the corner.


Guido

Guido is the founding father of Strikerless and main nutjob running the show.

49 Comments

Vehit · November 15, 2015 at 10:46 am

Nothing short of fantastic, this is.

    strikerlessGuido · November 15, 2015 at 11:00 am

    Thanks. I hope it works for you like it does for me 🙂 Be sure to let me know!

RedlanceEQ · November 15, 2015 at 4:56 pm

Thank you Guido for this very detailed post. A very nice read and I’ll be trying to mixed corners with my ManU save. 🙂

    strikerlessGuido · November 15, 2015 at 5:22 pm

    I hope they work as well for you as they do for me 🙂 Please let me know how you get on.

sgevolker · November 15, 2015 at 5:55 pm

Well, first match, first goal from far post. Scored after 60 minutes, it was an opener and let me win the game 3:0. I will go on with testing 🙂

Keith · November 15, 2015 at 9:05 pm

Guido, awesome as ever. I have a request tho if u don’t mind. Could do one on corner defense? Thanks in advance. 😊

Pizza Monster · November 16, 2015 at 1:02 am

I think if you are a team that lacks height like mine. The short approach works well. I haven’t moved to FM16 but on FM15 it’s like an extension of one touch football.

    strikerlessGuido · November 16, 2015 at 6:20 am

    Yeah, it was like that initially on FM16, but they have now coded in some aggressive AI fore-checking on the short option.

PeeDub · November 16, 2015 at 2:17 am

For whatever reason, I can’t seem to load your corner tactics saves. I don’t know if it’s a bug or what.

    strikerlessGuido · November 16, 2015 at 6:19 am

    Did you place them in the same folder as the regular tactics?

Yiddo · November 16, 2015 at 2:51 pm

Sorry i am a noob, how do i add these tactics to my game?

Great article by the way, very helpful and i appreciate the hard work you put into this.

    strikerlessGuido · November 16, 2015 at 3:05 pm

    My Documents/Sports Interactive/Football Manager 16/tactics

    Basically the default tactics folder.

daystarband · November 17, 2015 at 2:54 pm

Great read, thanks for sharing.

I cannot find the link to download them anywhere.

Am i missing something?

    strikerlessGuido · November 17, 2015 at 5:24 pm

    The downloadlinks are in the text of the article, hyperlinks.

sgevolker · November 17, 2015 at 4:45 pm

Hi Guido,
after scoring one goal in the first match I don’t score in the past ten matches 🙁
Regards
Volker

    strikerlessGuido · November 17, 2015 at 5:25 pm

    That’s a bit of a let-down after such a promising start.

Mikka · November 19, 2015 at 11:00 am

Download links have expired here, as well. Any chance for re-upload? Cheers.

    strikerlessGuido · November 19, 2015 at 11:01 am

    I’ll have a look. It shouldn’t have expired.

      Mikka · November 19, 2015 at 11:18 am

      “They’re working now. If you haven’t done anything, it’s very strange they didn’t work earlier.

      In any case, thanks.”

      strikerlessGuido · November 19, 2015 at 11:20 am

      I checked the links, but changed nothing.

Michelle · November 20, 2015 at 11:30 am

I cannot find the corner file in my tactics file…;(

    strikerlessGuido · November 20, 2015 at 1:07 pm

    That’s odd… It should really work…

      gnk31 · November 24, 2015 at 10:57 am

      you need to switch from “defence” to “attack” in corners routine.

gnk31 · November 23, 2015 at 4:16 pm

Hey Guido awesome blog! Been using your tactics for a year now. Would really appreciate it if you added defending corners & Free Kick routines!

Weston David Pagano (@wpazzurri) · November 27, 2015 at 4:35 pm

Very nice, thank you!

I do have one question I’ve always wondered about when setting up corners maybe you can help me with:

Say you have a left footed left winger and right footed right winger. Is it better to have the left sided player take your left sided corners and vice versa to preserve your tactical structure and shape, or is it better to have right footed players take left sided corners and vice versa so the ball is angled better as more of an in-swinger? What are the pros and cons to these options in your experience?

    strikerlessGuido · November 27, 2015 at 4:57 pm

    Shoot!

    strikerlessGuido · November 28, 2015 at 8:37 am

    Inswinging corners or not, I really have no preferences. If your players are strong in the air, inswinging corners are easier to head in.

      Weston David Pagano (@wpazzurri) · November 28, 2015 at 6:30 pm

      so in your experience putting your right footed right winger up for a corner on the left side doesn’t destroy your tactical shape in a way that offsets the advantages of making the cross easier to head?

      strikerlessGuido · November 29, 2015 at 9:52 am

      Not really. It closes dlown some avenues and opens up others. Inswinging corners are easier to be headed in, but also easier for a goalie to intercept. Outswingers are easier for volleys and a lot harder to intercept.

Weston David Pagano (@wpazzurri) · November 27, 2015 at 4:36 pm

I left a comment but it didn’t seem to post… are they moderated before or did it just not go through?

Bobby · December 9, 2015 at 4:46 pm

This is the best corner aadvice ive seen on the web, but i cant help thinking it exposes a problem with the game design (or perhaps im missing something?).

What i dont understand about corners is how am i supposed to set the routines up when i often need to keep changing my starting eleven each game (depending on form), or changing my formation (depending on opponent)?

If i always want my best CDef jumper on the far post at a corner, that player might be in the team one week and out of it the next, or even he might be in the left CDef position one week or the right DC position the next.

It seems like the gme doesnt allow me to just give the instruction: put the best jumper on the far post whoever it happens to be that week.

Am I supposed to have a different routine for every possible permutation?!

FMFMFMFMFM · January 4, 2016 at 12:01 am

Where are the download links, can’t find them.. ? Thanks , you’re awesome!

Tony · January 6, 2016 at 10:41 pm

There are no links at all man

celik · January 7, 2016 at 6:03 am

here is the download link..literally took me 10 minutes to find it lol.

https://www.dropbox.com/s/5mcqmom171mmzqp/Far%20post_A7E2A87A-D889-4DB1-928D-A2FF272CB540.fmf?dl=0

cheers and thanks strikerless appreciate it!

josef · February 16, 2016 at 7:21 am

hi could you possibly do one for defending set pieces?

MANUMAD · November 28, 2016 at 10:03 am

You mention downloads. So where are they?

    StrikerlessGuido · November 28, 2016 at 10:05 am

    I guess I never got around to actually adding those in. Whoops. Errare humanum est.

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