FULL ARTICLE: Another England Corner


I watched the England vs Denmark match earlier today.

I could talk about how I don’t think it was a penalty (or Harry Kane’s shout for that matter).

I could talk about how I think Declan Rice gets way too much shit for how good he is.

I could talk about how England were still the better team and should have gone through - pen or not.

I could talk about how everyone creams themselves when Jack Grealish comes on like he’s Pele. I like Grealish, but c’mon.

Or, I could sum up both games and chat about how Italy were outplayed against Pedri+10.

But to me, that’s all a bit boring - and I only have a small amount of time to write before heading out to training. If I get time, I’ll do a full preview.

But I want to discuss the chess match that is set pieces at major tournaments.

Last week I wrote a quick analysis about England’s goal from the corner against Ukraine. Today, we’ll look at England’s first corner against Denmark.

How They Lined Up

Let’s start with looking how both teams lined up for England’s first corner of the match.

A similar setup to Ukraine in a few ways with four man-markers on each runner (with Braithwaite there as extra support and to counter), with four marking a zone in the six yard box, with Raheem Sterling there to block.

Also one player there to stop the short ball.

However, there’s a key difference in the zonal marking. Ukraine’s zonal line was very straight - means you can get a bit lost as to what’s behind you.

Denmark’s was almost a box with the goalkeeper in the middle.

Here’s also a birds eye view of the setup.

A quick note, you can see an extra white shirt towards the back post. Declan Rice was in the box, and quickly move to the group of runners on the edge of the box. These little moves can divert attention for a split second.

Where Denmark Went Right

So, if the lineup is very similar, why didn’t they score?

Well, Denmark did a few things right in their corners (Maguire’s headers were from free kicks out to the side, not corners).

You 100% know that Denmark’s coaching staff look over a few things set piece wise for games like - and prepare for England’s most effective corner routines.

This could be another reason for that Declan Rice positioning before the ball is kicked. By having a decoy out there in the box to start the move, it looks different to the defenders. That’s just me spit balling, but all in all throwing little variations at the start of a routine helps.

On top of the prep though it was defended better. With the extra big center backs, Denmark’s defensive zone was a big big bunch of people. For example, Sterling was trying to block out Jannik Vestergaard. It didn’t work.

I’d take a zonal line with Vestergaard as the second man over Yarmolenko every day of the week.

Speaking of the zonal line, I also like having the line to be more of a box. It means that there isn’t really ever a person standing directly behind you and can cause mixups.

Finally, the defenders stayed on their man. The biggest error in the Ukraine corner was the defender ball-watching and letting Henderson clean through on goal.

Check this out.

As the ball is kicked, every player knows where their man is - either through physical contact or by positioning themselves so they can see the flight of the ball and their man.

Let’s compare this to Ukraine.

The defender has instantly lost his runner, who then goes on to score.

What Happened Next

The ball from Mount was cleared easily by the first man in the defensive zone.

Actually, England might have been in a bit of trouble if it not for some great defending by Luke Shaw and quick tracking back by Bukayo Saka to cut off a very dangerous passing lane.

Cool Things to Watch

I love the mini chess match that coaches play when it comes to things like this.

For example, there’s a very good chance that the Declan Rice positioning at the start was a dummy - England would know that Denmark are studying corners and ones that England work on and how to defend them.

Placing an attacker in a new position might throw off the defenders. Enough to hopefully get an advantage.

It’s this back-and-forward between managers and coaching staff that becomes a bit of a game within a game.

With the final, you know that both teams will leave no stone unturned.

Look for this corner routine and see if it gets used in the final, and what dummy runs they add to it to try and throw off the scent.

Why it Helps to Know This Stuff

There’s a few reasons. Starters, it’s always good to learn something about the game.

But more importantly, if you’re a card person, you’ll be able to look past the lazy journalism of “jeez that’s a good ball in” - often, it’s a bad defensive lapse.

You’d be surprised just how often terrible defending gets described as attacking brilliance. Don’t get me wrong, a goal is a goal. But if something is described to you as brilliant play, you’d probably expect it to be repeatable without the need of a massive defensive blunder.

Knowing the difference between the two can be massive.

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