Whether you like it or not, set pieces are becoming more and more important in modern football. They allow teams the opportunity to train for specific, premeditated conditions and these focussed training-sessions can result in a weaponized set piece that can help to break a deadlock. Even at the very highest level, a well-placed and well-delivered corner can break open a match. In this article, I will explain how I set up my corners, which process is used to create them and what I want the players in specific roles to do during the corners.

How I create my own setups; a five-step program

Corners are generally pretty repetitive, which makes it easy to analyse them and look for flaws and potential improvements. I’ll be honest about it as well, there is no magic trick that makes a routine work other than trial and error and just trying out a number of different setups until you find one that works. Yes, you can try to achieve a specific goal but you need the cooperation of the games’ rather restricted match engine to make this actually work. Personally, I use a five-step program when I am setting up my corners.

Step 1; look at the squad

There are a fair few people who think corner routines are simple plug-and-play assets that come with the game. Now if you have managed to find some sort of genuine exploit or glitch, that may even be true. For all the other corner routines and setups out there (and there are a fair few excellent ones out there) goes that you need to look at the players at your disposal before you even start to devise a setup.

If you have no really strong headers in your squad, would it be sensible to fling the ball into the box rather haphazardly and hope someone runs onto it? If you have no-one to deliver the ball accurately, would it not be more beneficial to actually play short corners, keep the ball and try to find an opening some other way? These are just a few examples of very real dilemmas you can encounter as a manager. Look at the squad at your disposal, look at what they can do and cannot do before devising a setup.

Step 2; look at the opposition

The attacking team will generally have some sort of numerical superiority somewhere in the penalty area. Most AI teams leave at least a single player up front and they always place two men on the posts. That leaves them with seven players to defend the penalty area. If you leave two players back and do not take the corner taker into consideration, that leaves you with an equal seven players to attack. The AI generally uses a zonal marking system instead of players just man-marking each other, which means their generic defence will look like this.

The highlighted area is the sweet-spot for deliveries here; there are no defenders in that area. We have removed an extra player from the penalty area by offering a short option, who is also being marked. This increases the chances of an accurate delivery. The highlighted area is, 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.

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.

Regardless of how you set up your corners, most of the defenders will be on and around the six-yard-box. Now unless you possess some exceptionally strong players adept at heading, it makes little sense to fling ball after ball into that host of bodies and hoping for the best. Finding some sort of delivery into that highlighted area would be far more sensible.

Step 3; devise a routine

Keeping in mind that I have no exceptionally strong players adept at heading a ball in my squad, I have gone with a setup that tries to cram as many players as possible onto the edge of the penalty area, in that specific sweet spot for delivery. I know that the ball will often not end up there directly, but there are plenty of players in that position to try a volley or at the very least recycle possession when the opposition tries to clear the ball. The setup I devised looks like this.

You will note that I have no-one to take the corner specifically. That is because you have to look at who your designated player is. You can put the designated corner-taker in the position the MCR occupies now, attack from deep. On the pitch, the setup roughly looks like this.

I have highlighted and numbered every player, except the corner-taker. I will also explain the logic behind each decision and instruction.

  1. Come short; this player draws a defender away from the penalty area, which means the chance of an accurate delivery of the corner has just increased. When the initial corner is cleared and brought back into the penalty area, the AI often seems to forget that this player is around, granting him the opportunity to dribble into the area and take a cheeky shot on goal.
  2. Stay back; this player will deal with the opposing forward left behind.
  3. Stay back; this player will deal with the opposing forward left behind.
  4. Go forward; this player is supposed to recycle possession from the edge of the box and maybe try to volley home deflected or poorly cleared corners.
  5. Go forward; this player is supposed to recycle possession from the edge of the box and maybe try to volley home deflected or poorly cleared corners.
  6. Attack far post; I am actually not under the illusion that this player will score many goals, but if I put him on “Go forward” as well, the spread of the four men on the edge of the box would become too wide and the AI would place one extra defender forward, effectively eliminating that ideal delivery zone I outlined earlier. Trial and error led to this conclusion.
  7. Go forward; this player is supposed to recycle possession from the edge of the box and maybe try to volley home deflected or poorly cleared corners.
  8. Challenge keeper; this player will hinder the keeper in coming off his line and perhaps even obscuring the keeper’s line of sight when a long range effort comes in. He also tends to grab the odd rebound when the ball clatters off the woodwork or when the keeper fails to clear it properly.
  9. Stand on far post; I deliberately placed this player at the far post and not the near post, because he will draw a defender with him and because it leaves the near post free of excess defenders, meaning the delivery of the ball is impeded by one less defender. Potential shots from the short option are also less likely to be blocked this way.

Step 4; use it in matches & Step 5; evaluate and alter

What you’re seeing above is the somewhat final version of the setup. It’s taken a fair few seasons to reach this zenith of corner-kick development and quite a bit of tinkering took place along the way. When it all comes together, it’s supposed to look like this.

The download; Dropbox


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


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