FC Midtjylland Set Piece Tactical Analysis

In Part 1 I explored Midtjylland’s use of free-kicks and throw-ins that have scored them an incredible amount of goals this season, in this part I’ll explore their use of corners, which have played an even bigger part in their season.

Vs AaB 1st October

We start off with a pretty simple routine, with 2 aspects I’d like to draw some focus to, the first is the spacing of players. This is something I’ve noticed a lot of top set-piece sides doing – scrapping the usual scenario of group of players attacking the 6-yard area from the penalty spot instead replacing it with players spread apart in the box. This provides greater coverage of the area in-case of a bad delivery and also provides opportunities for flick-ons and benefiting from second balls. The next component is the run of the one of the players in the 6-yard box, he leaves the 6-yard box dragging his marker with him – creating space for one of the players attacking from the penalty spot to attack.

Vs Lyngby 29th October


Midtjylland crowd the 6-yard area, with player movement limited I feel they must have identified a weakness with the goalkeeper as this is pretty unlike most of their corner routines. The run from the Midtjylland #13 and the delivery to the back post suggests that this was highlighted as the area deemed most vulnerable.

Vs AGF 27th November


This is a clever routine for several reasons. The first is the flick-on itself, apart from one AGF player marking zonally, this area is free of opposition players so is ripe for exploitation, as Midtjylland do so well from set-pieces. The next is the removal of players from the danger area – as I often note in my articles, having a player provide a short option will always drag at least one player out of the penalty area, 2 players making runs towards the kick for the flick-on drags their man markers out from the area in front of the goal – taking a total of 3 players out of the equation. The final piece of the jigsaw is the timing of the runs, everything is coordinated and planned superbly, from the initial runs for the flick-on to the runs towards the back-post to get the final touch.

Vs AGF 27th November


The movement on this corner is superb, and it’s impossible to tell what happens on one watch alone. Keep an eye on several players – firstly the Midtjylland number 5 (Marc Hende) and number 70 (Filip Novak), as the kick is being taken Hende blocks Novaks marker from following him, allowing a free run towards the back post. The next is the cluster of players on the edge of the 6-yard box, their runs create a vacuum in the middle of the 6-yard area.

The final player to keep an eye on is Zsolt Korcsmar (#4), he drifts towards the back-post with his marker following him, as the kick is being taken he darts forward into the space now left vacant, allowing him a free header on goal.

Vs OB 4th December


Again clever movement is key here, with practically the entire team making a run towards the near-post area – creating a massive underload at the back post for a lone runner to attack. Interesting to note that with everyone making the run to the same area, it made the goalkeeper take a couple of steps forward as well which proves to be decisive factor as he’s then positioned too far forward to catch the cross.

Vs Silkeborg 5th March

The importance of using intelligent spacing from set-pieces again comes to the fore, with players covering as many different areas the ball will likely land as possible. This starting position also makes life tricky for the goalkeeper as he cannot see the Midtjylland players and look at the ball at the same time, which could cause problems.

Vs Silkeborg 5th March


I love routines like this. Midtjylland group their players towards the back of the area, with a pair of players inside the 6-yard box and a pair of players on the edge of the area. The players at the back of the area don’t move, creating an underload with plenty of space in the area. One of the pair on the edge of the area makes a run into the empty space whilst the player next to him blocks off his marker from following him, allowing a free run. One of the players inside the 6-yard box make a run towards the kick taker whilst the other backs into his marker, creating space for the shot. Superbly worked.

Vs Horsens 3rd April


An incredibly clever (albeit risky) corner. With all the Midtjylland players in the penalty area seemingly ready for the ball in, Horsens don’t deploy anyone to defend against the short corner, when the corner is played short it takes the Horsens defence by surprise – forcing them to take 2 players out of the danger area. Due to being so surprised by the short corner Horsens are slow to react, leaving them open and vulnerable to the tricky footwork on display. The resulting cross is played low into the danger area creating a simple finish.

Vs Kobenhavn 9th April

More clever use of blockers on display here – watch the looping run to the back post area from the Midtjylland #28, on the first watch it looks as if his marker simply didn’t follow him, allowing him a free header, but if you watch it again, his marker is blocked off by the Midtjylland player next to him, giving him to make his run and header unopposed. I’m amazed more clubs don’t do this as it seems a fantastic way to generate chances.

Vs Kobenhavn 9th April


Movement is again the deciding factor, the Midtjylland players move with such purpose with dummies and dropping the shoulder regularly to buy themselves a half second over their markers. The runs are superb as well, with one player dropping deep with his run, whilst the other 3 players who are grouped together make their runs – which leaves a gaping hole for the player who dropped deep to make his run into the space.

Vs Nordsjaelland 15th April


The advantages of clever spacing (allowing coverage of as much of the box as possible) is demonstrated once again as the delivery isn’t great, but due to the spacing of the players it means someone is there to head the ball back into the danger area.

Summary

Normally I give possible ways to set-up a team against the team I’m analysing to nullify their strengths, but i’m not sure that’s possible against teams with such an emphasis on set-pieces like Midtjylland, their approach to set-pieces is so versatile and well rehearsed that it makes it impossible to predict what their planning, which in turn makes trying to plan a defensive strategy very very hard. It just goes to show that if clubs embrace set-pieces and puts a genuine focus on them, the returns can be massive.

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