Set pieces can easily be a neglected part of your tactics. However, goals from dead ball situations can often be the difference between a defeat and a draw, or a draw and a win. Therefore, taking a short time to select set piece instructions can add several points across the course of a season. This can be done on the Set Pieces tab of the Tactics screen.
You should select a list of several takers for each type of set piece so that appropriate players are used when your best takers are not on the pitch. To do this you will need to drag player names from the panel on the left to the set piece panels on the right. Your preferred takers should be listed first and you can change the order at any time by dragging names on the list.
The target area, or aim, for each type of set piece can be selected on the set piece panels by ticking aim at and then using the drop-down. You will need to do this separately for set pieces taken from the left side and the right side.
You can instruct how your players should position themselves both when attacking and defending set pieces by clicking the edit instructions button on each set pieces panel and using the Set Piece Creator wizard. You can also view and edit your player positioning instructions in the left panel by selecting the appropriate view from the drop-down.
Penalty takers are selected separately on the Penalties section of the Set Pieces tab.
1. Corners - Attacking
1.1. Corner Takers
Attributes - The most important attribute for your corner takers is Corners, while Crossing, Passing and Technique are also useful.
Preferred Moves - Players who have Curls Ball as a preferred move, in addition to good ratings in the above attributes, can provide an even greater threat from corners.
In addition, you should consider whether a potential corner taker would instead be more useful on the receiving end of a cross. For example, because he has good aerial presence or good long range shooting ability.
The strongest foot of your player and the side a corner is taken from will dictate whether a corner is in-swinging, curving towards the goal, or out-swinging, curving away from the goal. For example, a right-footed player will deliver in-swinging corners from the left and out-swinging from the right. Typically, in-swinging corners are more effective as they make it easier for attacking players to direct the ball towards goal and much harder for defending players to clear effectively. Therefore, you may want to select different players to take corners from each side.
The swing of corners should also be considered in relation to the corner aim and player positioning, both of which are discussed below. For instance, an out-swinging corner is less likely to find a player positioned at the near or far post.
1.2. Corner Aim
Corners can be used to aim a cross to either post or into the centre of the opposition penalty area, while they can also be used to make a short pass.
A far post corner can be effective in setting up a player on this post for a powerful close range header directly at goal. However, such corners are technically more difficult so if you are lacking a higher ability corner taker then it may be better to instruct corners to be aimed at the near post, where the ball can be flicked on or glanced towards goal.
Corners aimed to the centre, either to the penalty spot or closer to the goal in the 6 yard box, often make punching or catching the cross easier for the goalkeeper. However, if a suitable player is instructed to challenge the keeper, as explained below, they can still prove successful.
Short corners can be useful if you do not have many players with good aerial presence to provide effective targets from crosses. Such a corner can help draw opposition players, who might be marking your players or the goal posts, away from their defensive positions, giving the player who has received the corner a better opportunity to find a teammate in available space. He may also be able to run with the ball into the box in an attempt to create further space for teammates as defenders close him down. In addition, short corners can be helpful when trying to waste time late in the match.
1.3. Player Positioning
Players should be positioned according to their various abilities and the corner aim.
For corners aimed to either post your main target can be instructed to attack that post using either attack near post or attack far post as appropriate. This should be the player with the best aerial presence (Jumping Reach) and heading ability (Heading and Technique), while physical presence (Balance and Strength) is also important. In addition, good endeavour (Aggression, Bravery, Determination and Work Rate) will help a player get to the ball before an opposition player.
Furthermore, for corners aimed to the near post such a player can be positioned for a near post flick on. If a cross comes to him instead of your main target then he can attempt either a glancing header directly at goal or a flicked header or kick across goal so that a teammate can potentially try a shot before the opposition goalkeeper gets back into position.
Likewise, for corners aimed to the far post such a player can be instructed to stand on far post. If a cross comes to him he can attempt either a header or kick directly at goal or back across the goal.
If you position other players with decent aerial presence on the opposite post to where corners are being aimed then they will be able to attack the ball if a corner is knocked across goal or if the corner is misplaced. Otherwise, they can simply act as decoys, keeping opposition markers away from the main target area.
Instructing a player with good physical presence and endeavour, and preferably good aerial presence, to challenge keeper can be very useful. This will make it harder for the opposition goalkeeper to claim a cross as the presence of the player will effectively restrict his movement.
It can also be useful to instruct a player with good attacking movement (Anticipation, Concentration, Decisions, Off The Ball and Teamwork) to attack ball from deep. He will take up a starting position outside the penalty area and try to take advantage of any opportunity to attack a cross, pass or loose ball. He would benefit from good aerial presence as well, while shooting ability (Finishing and Technique) would be useful if the ball comes to his feet.
In addition, it is advisable to instruct a player to lurk outside area in case a cross is cleared short. He should ideally have good long range shooting ability (Finishing, Long Shots and Technique), as well as good control (First Touch and Technique) so he can quickly set himself up for a shot. He would also benefit from preferred moves such as Shoots From Distance, so he will be more likely to shoot, and Shoots With Power and Curls Ball, so his shots will be more likely to be effective. Even if you do not have a long range specialist you may want to have a player positioned here to help keep the pressure on the opposition.
You may want to instruct a player to offer short option so that he will stay close to the corner taker where he can receive a pass. In particular, you should do this for short corners. In order for him to use the ball effectively he should have either good dribbling ability (Dribbling, Technique, Anticipation, Decisions, Flair, Agility and Balance), good crossing ability (Crossing, Passing, Technique, Anticipation and Decisions) or good passing ability (Passing, Technique, Anticipation, Decisions, Flair, Teamwork and Vision). Although, if you team is trying to waste time then he may attempt to hold up the ball, in which case he would benefit from good hold-up play (Anticipation, Decisions, Teamwork, Balance and Strength). In addition, using a player with poorer aerial presence as a decoy short option can be useful for corners aimed into the penalty area. Such a player is less likely to be effective in the area, but can attract a marker away leaving one less opposition player to defend a cross.
Generally, three players should be instructed to stay back if needed to provide defensive cover when a corner is cleared. They should have poorer aerial presence so that they will not be missed in the penalty area and should preferably have good defensive abilities. However, you may want more than three players to stay back when playing very defensively. If this is the case then you can use the stay back instruction instead to ensure that they do not move forward. In contrast, you may want less than three to stay back when playing very offensively in order to take more of a risk at corners.
Any players not given one of the above instructions can be told to go forward. They will find appropriate positions in the penalty area to provide additional threats for the opposition to deal with.
1.4. Adapting Your Corners During a Match
A useful match strategy for attacking corners is to observe which opposition players are marking each post when the first corner is taken. If one post appears to be marked by a player with poorer aerial presence then you should consider adjusting your corner setup to exploit this.
2. Free Kicks – Attacking
2.1. Free Kick Takers
Attributes - The most important attribute for your free kick takers is Free Kick Taking, while Crossing, Long Shots, Passing, Technique, Composure and Concentration are also useful.
Preferred Moves - Players who have Hits Free Kicks With Power or Curls Ball as preferred moves, in addition to good ratings in the above attributes, can provide an even greater threat from free kicks.
Another preferred move related to free kicks is Tries Long Range Free Kicks. However, this will not make a player's free kicks more effective in itself, as it will simply make a player likely to attempt direct shots from free kicks taken further away from the opposition goal.
In addition, if a potential free kick taker has good aerial presence then you should consider whether he would instead be more useful in the opposition penalty area.
As with corners, right-footed players can be more effective at taking free kicks from the left and left-footed players can be more effective at taking free kicks from the right. Therefore, you may want to select different players to take free kicks from each side.
2.2. Free Kick Aim
When a free kick is taken from close enough to the opposition goal and from an appropriate angle your free kick taker will usually attempt a direct shot at goal past the opposition wall.
When a free kick is taken from further away from goal or from closer to either flank your free kick taker will usually attempt a long ball or cross into the penalty area or make a short pass.
To encourage your free kick taker to make a short pass instead of shooting or playing the ball into the area you can instruct free kicks to be taken short. This can be useful if you do not have many good free kick takers or many players with good aerial presence on the pitch, or if you want your team to play more cautiously and try to keep possession, perhaps in order to waste time. It can also be useful if you have a player with good long range shooting ability who can receive a pass and take a shot at goal.
Alternatively, you can instruct free kicks to be played into the penalty area by using the long, near post, cross centre, far post or best header options.
Crosses to the far post or to your best header can be more effective but, since they are technically more difficult, you may only want to use such free kicks if you have a free kick taker with higher ability. In particular, aiming free kicks to your best header can be useful if you have one particular player with good aerial presence and heading ability.
If you are lacking a higher ability free kick taker then you may want to use one of the other options. In particular, free kicks taken long or to the near post require less ability. Instructing free kicks to be taken long will also encourage long balls into the penalty area from free kicks taken in deeper positions, which can be useful if this approach matches your tactical style or if you have a lot of players with good aerial presence to get the ball forward to.
2.3. Player Positioning
You can make goal attempts from free kicks more varied and unpredictable, and more likely to beat the wall, by instructing a player to stand with taker and instructing free kicks to be taken short. This player will stand close to where the free kick is taken to provide a passing option for the taker, and if used will typically attempt a shot at goal himself. He should therefore ideally have good long range shooting ability, while the preferred moves Shoots From Distance, Shoots With Power and Curls Ball would also be beneficial.
As discussed above for corners, it can be very useful to instruct a player with good physical presence and endeavour, and preferably good aerial presence, to mark keeper. Again, this will make it harder for the goalkeeper to claim a cross.
In addition, instructing one or more players, who perhaps have poorer aerial presence, to disrupt wall can make it more difficult for the opposition wall to defend a free kick. They will jostle with the players in the wall in an attempt to create gaps and break their concentration. In particular, this will make direct shots at goal more likely to beat the wall.
As with corners, generally three players should be instructed to stay back if needed, but you may want more to stay back when playing very defensively or less to stay back when playing very offensively. Your remaining players can be instructed to go forward. In particular, you should ensure that you send those players with the best aerial presence forward, while these players would also benefit from good physical presence and endeavour.
3. Throw Ins
3.1. Throw In Takers
Attributes - The most important attribute for your throw in takers is Long Throws, while Balance and Strength are also useful. The higher a player's ratings are for these attributes the further he will be able to throw the ball and the more effective his throw ins will be.
Preferred Moves - If a player has Possesses Long Flat Throw as a preferred move then he should be selected as your preferred throw in taker, as his throw ins will be more effective.
3.2. Throw In Aim
If you have a player with good ratings in the above attributes then it advisable to instruct throw ins to be taken long.
Otherwise, you can instruct them to be taken either short or quick.
Short throws will give your throw in taker more time to choose an appropriate target and will help to slow play down, which can be suitable if you are using a lower tempo tactical style or want your team to waste time.
Quick throws though can allow your taker to take advantage of a player in space before an opposition player is able to mark him, and can be useful if you are using a higher tempo style or want your team to play more urgently.
3.3. Player Positioning
For long throws you can position your preferred target player or players at the near post. These players should ideally have good physical and aerial presence, as well as good control, in order to receive the ball in a congested penalty area, while they would also benefit from good endeavour, attacking movement and shooting ability.
As at corners, a player can be instructed to lurk outside area to help keep the pressure on the opposition in case a long throw is cleared short. Again, he should ideally have good long range shooting ability and control.
Keeping at least three players back is advisable, unless perhaps your team needs to score urgently. Instructing any less than three players to stay back can leave your team very vulnerable to a counter attack if a throw in is cleared, as can often be the case.
Any other players can be instructed to go forward to help pack the opposition penalty area.
For short or quick throws you should instruct at least one player on each side of the pitch to come short to receive the ball.
Attributes - The most important attribute for your penalty takers is Penalty Taking, while Finishing is also useful. In addition, your penalty takers would benefit from being mentally strong in order to handle the pressure of taking a penalty. Therefore, good Composure is important, while Concentration and Decisions are also useful. When selecting players with poorer technical ability to take penalties (for example, for a penalty shoot-out) it is even more important to consider the mental attributes of each player.
The Penalty Taking, Finishing and Composure attributes are shown for each player on the Penalties screen (when the Penalty Taking view is selected) to make selecting your penalty takers easier.
5. Defending Set Pieces
In addition to setting up your attacking set pieces, it is important to give players positioning instructions for defending free kicks and corners.
5.1. Defending Corners
Your players with the best marking ability (particularly Marking, Anticipation, Concentration and Positioning), physical presence and endeavour can be instructed to man mark opposition players. It is advisable to instruct those man markers with better aerial presence to mark tall player. Physical presence can also help a player to win physical tussles when jumping and so should be considered as well. Similarly, it is advisable to instruct those man markers with poorer aerial presence to mark small player.
In addition, it is recommended that you instruct one player to mark near post and one to mark far post in order to better protect your goal should an opposition player attempt a shot. These can be players with poorer marking ability as their job is simply to stand at the post.
Furthermore, you may want to instruct one or more players to zonally mark six yard box. This involves a player staying in an area close to the goal where he will attempt to win the ball or block a shot if necessary. Any zonal markers should ideally have good Anticipation, Concentration and Positioning.
You may also want to position a player on the edge of area to deal with any opposition player lurking there and to help clear the ball or start a counter attack should a corner be cleared short. He would benefit from having good passing ability.
Typically, the opposition will have no more than seven players in or around the penalty area to attack a corner, but the number will vary according to the match situation. As such, it is advisable to instruct nine outfield players to defend corners, with at least eight being positioned inside the penalty area using the marking instructions or go back, and possibly one positioned on the edge of the area. If you have two players marking the posts then this leaves you with seven players to pick up the opposition players attacking the corner.
However, you may want to instruct all ten outfield players to defend corners when holding on for a result, or one or two less when needing a goal late in a match.
The player (or players) not required to defend corners can be instructed to stay forward. Such a player should be playing in an attacking position so he will stay high up the pitch. He would benefit from good physical and aerial presence and good control to help him win the ball ahead of an opposition player and hold the ball up so teammates can join the attack, or alternatively good mobility (Acceleration, Agility and Pace), and perhaps dribbling ability, so he can chase balls over the top and run at the opposition defenders who stay back to cover.
Another option when defending corners is to instruct a player, preferably with poorer marking ability and aerial presence, to close down corner. This can make it harder for the taker to direct the corner. However, this player will effectively be taken out of the game when the ball is crossed into the area. If you have one player staying forward then this leaves you with eight outfield players to defend the cross. If two of these are marking the posts then only six will be able to pick up an opposition player. Therefore, this option can be particularly risky.
5.2. Defending Free Kicks
Free kicks can be defended similarly to corners, except there are fewer marking options available and you will need some players to form a defensive wall.
About four players should be instructed to form wall. These players would benefit from good aerial presence and Bravery.