#006 - Portugal and their corners
We all love a good and effective set-piece routine!
Group C threw in some curveballs yesterday. The first game between Switzerland and Portugal ended just as it started, frantically. The big clash of the heavyweights didn’t disappoint either, with both Netherlands and Sweden showcasing their tactical flexibility. At the end of the day, the spoils were shared and the group now stands in balance.
During the Euro qualifiers, Portugal and Switzerland were the lowest and the 3rd lowest scoring teams with 10 and 20 goals scored respectively. Portugal’s qualification was a dramatic story in itself but few could have predicted the drama that ensued in the game.
Viewed as a must win game for both the teams by their managers. Nils Nielsen’s Switzerland raced to a two goal lead inside 5 minutes and things looked bleak for Portugal. The Swiss looked set the break the cursed run of 6 winless games but that’s when Portugal decided to play.
Francisco Neto’s side grew as the game went on and dominated the Swiss side. They passed more, they shot more, they controlled better, they counter-pressed better and created more threat. But the thing that stood out the most was their corner routines. Knockout competitions aren’t always won by the best team on-the-ball, maximizing your set-pieces can give teams hope to pull off something unthinkable & they are cool as well!
Here is a look into what Portugal did on their corner routines in terms of their setup and execution to cause so many problems. We will focus on general setup and look at each corner.
Corner #1: 40th minute, left hand side | Corner taker: Ana Borges
This is where the real fun began. Portugal (in red) earned their first corner in the 40th minute. Portugal’s setup looked something like this:
One player at the near post and one player as a short passing option.
Two players at the edge of the box.
Two players near the penalty spot and one at the far post.
The Swiss (in white) always had 1 player marking the near post threat and 2 trying to counter the short-passing option. They have 4 players, excluding the near-post marker, inside the 6-yard box with zonal marking assignments and 2 at the penalty spot trying to keep track of opposition players stationed there and the potential runs from outside the box.
The delivery is an in-swinger and targeted at near post. There are two consistent and interesting movements from the Portuguese here. Diana Silva (#16, in blue) is always tasked with making a run towards the near post while Diana Gomes (#19, in red) makes a curve run in behind of her marker. A player is always stationed at the far post as well.
On this occasion, Diana Silva (#16, in blue) makes the contact at the near post, as the Swiss have committed 2 players for the near post threat and fail to pick her run from behind. The shot, a flick, goes over the bar but it was a sign of what is to come.
Corner #2: 51st minute, right hand side | Corner taker: Ana Borges
This was Portugal’s 2nd corner and their first of second half. Again let’s look at their setup:
One player at the near post, one player as a short passing option.
Two players near the penalty spot and one at the far post.
One player at the edge of the box.
Swiss on the other hand have done the same thing as well
Two player committed short.
4 players inside the penalty box and 1 on the near post threat.
2 near the penalty spot, to take care of the runs and 1 marking the option at the edge of the box.
On this occasion the delivery is poor, as Ana Borges hits it low and the Swiss manage to clear it.
Corner #3: 54th minute, left hand side | Corner taker: Ana Borges
The 3rd corner of the game and Portugal were trying out variations. The setup is the same again for both teams (I hope you can spot it as well) but this time the delivery is targeted towards delayed run by LB, Joana Marchao (in blue). The idea was for her to take a shot from the edge of the box, where there is a lot of space on offer.
It ended comically as the referee stood in the way of the shot and blocked it brilliantly but Portugal were showing variety.
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Corner #4: 58th minute, right hand side | Corner taker: Joana Marchao
This corner set the premise for Portugal’s first goal. The setup we’ve been discussing is once again very clear, we get a view of where players are positioning themselves. I hope you guys are able to identify the setup used by both sides.
Focus on the movements of Diana Gomes (#19). The way she makes an initial run towards the near post before correcting it ever so slightly to attack the ball more centrally is excellent. It allows her to attack the ball in behind the Swiss defender, making her difficult to pick up.
On this occasion she doesn’t connect but the idea is there. Also pay attention to the far post movement by Costa (#15).
Corner #5: 58th minute, left hand side | Corner taker: Ana Borges
Here is the setup again, the same thing as before from both the teams. You can clearly the see the zones occupied by different players. This corner is special cause this time Portugal got success from their routine with a straight delivery targeted inside the penalty box.
And here is the goal!
See that movement by Diana Silva (#16) and Diana Gomes (#19), I pointed out in the corner before? It worked this time and she connected the header. The fact that she is able to attack the ball allows her to generate power behind her header as well. As they say, you create your own chances (nobody actually says that), Portugal were doing bits all game from the corner and they got it right this time!
Corner #6: 64th minute, right hand side | Corner taker: Joana Marchao
Portugal’s domination was such that they had 5 corners inside the first 20 minutes of the 2nd half. Having just scored from a corner, Portugal had the momentum and their routines had troubled Nielsen’s side.
An all too familiar setup here again and Portugal target the penalty spot with the in-swinging delivery. They manage the get something on the initial header to head it towards the far post.
Remember I told you to focus on how Costa manages to peel off at the far post. Well guess what? She is in acres of space here to pick up the second ball and get the shot off. Another movement that has been staple of their routine all game coming into use.
Corner #7: 74th minute, right hand side | Corner taker: Joana Marchao
This time the delivery is targeted at the near post marker they have had stationed all game. Jessica Silva, the scorer of the 2nd goal, manages to get the header but it sails harmlessly.
8th corner was minutes later from the left side and it was targeted towards the far post again but it didn’t result in anything meaningful.
I feel the Swiss setup on defensive corners wasn’t optimal. Despite the numbers in the box they were unable to pick up runs and understand assignments properly. Despite Portugal making the same moves, they were still finding success.
Eitherway it was pretty cool to watch and that’s the beauty of international competitions!
Nutmegs are filthy but that’s a career ending one from Kosovare Asllani!
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