Set piece plays are an essential aspect of the game. If you are unable to break down a particularly sturdy defence, a well-executed set piece may be all you need to pry open the defence. Hell, you can win games by making sure your offensive set pieces are good. In this blog post, I am running through the plays I am using in FM20.
The mechanics of the game
I could write a lot about the various options the game offers or which attributes are required for a specific position or task but others have already done this and so extensively that I would rather link to their work. So without much ado, I highly recommend reading this piece on Passion 4FM, which is the most thorough and conclusive in its description of the various options in FM20 and the attributes required for specific actions.
My corner routine has not evolved much since FM18 or so. I love my short corners, always have and always will. They just work and they are quite versatile. The fun thing is if you just change the corner taker to be the short option, you have a quite versatile and easily tweaked weapon.
The short corner
The concept is easy. Play a short pass, draw a defender out of position and make sure you get the ball into the penalty area for a late runner or a strong header.
And it works like a charm. The setup is unpredictable as hell but it works just because it is so difficult to defend against. The key players here are the corner taker and the short option. The corner taker should be an excellent corner taker whereas the short option needs excellent Crossing, Dribbling, Passing, Technique, Anticipation, Decisions and Vision, just to make the most out of those opportunities he gets.
The direct corner
In some cases, you may want to switch things up. If you set the short option to be your corner taker, you get variations like these.
The original set corner taker will creep up to the penalty area and offer an additional option there, which often ends quite well. There’s also the traditional
Indirect free kicks
I was going to type a whole section on how it’s so important to come up with your own, original routine. Turns out the default settings are the best you can do if you find yourself a crack free-kick taker. Who’d have thought it was this easy.
In previous instalments of the game, I have written (and collaborated) about long throws in Football Manager. Well guess what; they are back. Or to be more precise, they never really left but it took us some time to find a way to make them work again. Just have a gander.
Magnificent in all its simplicity. You find someone with a remotely decent long throw and he hoofs the ball towards someone who is tall, can head a ball and has the spatial awareness to manoeuvre himself away from tenacious defenders. Add a sprinkling of SI goalkeeping magic to the mix and you have a very effective throw-in routine.
An additional benefit to this year’s setup is that it no longer requires any PPM’s to work. In previous instalments of the game, your Delap-in-the-making used the PPM “long bullet throw” to work his devious magic. Now, you just need some fucker who can hurl a ball really far.
The setup is quite straightforward. My DR is the one with the best long throw, so he takes the long throw. The most potent aerial threats are massed in the penalty area and a number of the midfielders create a barrier outside the box to challenge for deflected or cleared balls.
Alas, the game has somehow managed to fuck this up. The trick still works, just not quite as intended on the drawing board.
Like I said, the players just won’t do what I want them to do. Allow me to elaborate.
Instead of staying in the penalty area, the second defender drops back to create a numerical superiority at the back and prevent a one-on-one situation. No matter where I place that second defender in the setup, he continues to drop back, so I imagine it is done intentionally.
Either way, what usually happens is that the big central defender goes up in the air and challenges for the ball. At this point, a number of things can happen. The defender wins the challenge and either heads it towards goal or towards the second post for a team-mate, or he loses the challenge and one of the players crowding the edge of the box gets a shot in.
When you look at the videos I shared above, you can see examples of each of these scenarios. It’s not pretty, it’s not fancy but it seems to work well because goalkeepers and defenders alike seem completely inept at dealing with these long throws and the on-rushing forwards.