Side free kicks – Attack vs Defense

In situations of offensive side free kick, from those attacking perspective, there´s often the possibility to explore the area in front of the opponent´s box, through a pass for that area. 

From a zonal defensive perspective (defensive line creation), the most common way to defend this kind of tactical scheme is not leaving any element in front of the opponent’s box. There may be a late pass to that uncovered area, although those attacking do not always try to explore it. 

From an individual marking perspective, the same applies. However, beyond the lack of cover at the box entrance, there may be “blocks” to allow back passes for outside shots more often. 

The mixed marking is much used to defend this kind of tactical scheme. Besides a defensive line being defined, some teams put 1, 2 or more players in individual marking. By taking advantage of those individual relations in a box area (blocking), the lack of cover in front of the box can be explored with circular moves from the attacking team. 

In order to avoid any back pass free kick, and exploring a possible lack of coverage at the entrance of the area, this is one of the ways to handle it. Placing 1 or 2 elements at a coverage area in front of the box allows not only to avoid a back pass free kick but also to win a second ball if the free kick is hit (crossed to the box). 

Considering the opponent, how can we enhance this situations?

Do we have strong players in outside shots? Or our players are stronger in aerial duels?

For this kind of situations to be explored just like it is described in this article, the game analysis and observation as well as the players characteristics, become crucial.