As I watched the first five corners against Lyon go straight to the opposition defender I thought to myself that something had to change. We had been excellent in attacking corners and the routine I had created had been working excellently in the opening five matches that I had tested it in. What I hadn’t accounted for was some opposition defenders being better placed to deal with this type of corner routine. I needed more routines to offer variation. For this very reason, I now have two routines for attacking corners loaded against my tactic. One to the near post and one to the far post. These two routines will alternate during the match.
Before I go into the details of how I create FM20 set pieces, specifically attacking corners, I want to give a little bit of background information as to why I find set-pieces an important part of the tactic building process.
I’ve done quite a bit of reading on set pieces in real-world football. Unfortunately, we’re a little limited in Football Manager in terms of what sorts of set pieces we can create, but there are some great pieces out there if you want to read up.
The Value of FM20 Set Pieces
In the 2026/27 French Ligue 1 Conforama season (during my current save with Stade Rennais) there were 956 goals scored in the league. Of these goals, 12% were from attacking corners. That is 114 goals scored. There are some people who do not worry about their set pieces in Football Manager and will leave the default instructions. These are probably okay, but when I look at the opposition and teams like Sochaux who scored just the single goal from a corner, I can’t help but think that better planning and attention might have improved their 6th place finish.
If you’re not scoring at least 10% of your goals from attacking corners then you’re really costing yourself some valuable points. Sochaux scored 39 goals in 38 matches. This is well below the average of just under six goals per team. A couple of extra goals and they might have made Champions League football against all the odds. These small margins can make a lot of difference come the end of the season.
My Stade Rennais side are currently scoring 20% of our league goals from attacking corners. That is one corner goal in every five goals we score coming from attacking corners. You can perhaps see how we got to 87 goals this year and over 100 the previous year when 17 were from corners alone.
What is the value to adding 15-20 goals a season to your club from set pieces alone without having to pay the transfer fee and wages of a 20 goal a season striker? It could be the difference that saves you from relegation or earns you the lucrative European place.
According to StatsBomb, set-piece goals typically account for between 25% and 33% of all goals scored over the course of a season in real-world football, with most clubs averaging around .3 goals a game from set-pieces and elite clubs pushing this number up to .75 or .80 goals from set-pieces alone. I don’t think there’s any correlation here between real-life football and Football Manager, but I found that stat very interesting, if a little hard to believe.
I’ve always been interested in working on and creating set-pieces but I’ve just never written about them since FM Rensie does such a good job of it over at https://www.fmrensie.net/category/fm/set-pieces/. However, I wanted to start to write more about my tactics and my thinking process behind how I create my FM20 set pieces, starting with attacking corners. In future posts, I’ll be writing about defensive corners, free-kicks and throw-ins.
Goals from set pieces are not luck.Ted Knutson, @mixedknuts
The above quote is from this interesting piece on StatsBomb. Changing How the World Thinks About Set Pieces.
So this is my approach to attacking corners as part of my FM20 set-pieces series. As always I’d love your input if you have any questions or success stories of your own. You can get in touch with me via the comments at the bottom of this post. Now, onto FM20 set-pieces – attacking corners.
Building FM20 Set Pieces – Attacking Corners
Before I start to build my attacking corners or any FM20 set pieces I like to first make sure that I have my strongest 11 selected for my tactic. This means that when it comes to assigning positions during the building of my set pieces I know the strengths and weaknesses of the players in each area.
I do this because most of the time I’ll be playing my strongest 11 so it helps to know that I’ll have the strongest players in their best positions for the attacking corners when it comes to the match.
You can see the tactics I’m currently using with Stade Rennais in the post below.
With my strongest 11 selected it’s time to start building some set pieces.
Set Piece Takers – Attacking Corners
Tactics > Set Pieces > Set Piece Takers
When deciding on who should take attacking corners, Football Manager recommends you only look at the Corners attribute on the player profile, which reflects the player’s ability to accurately take a corner. However, I also take Technique into consideration, which is important for players to be able to pull off a tricky pass or cross-field ball.
In addition, I always try to ensure my set-piece takers have the trait of Curls Ball. Unfortunately, in this save I don’t have any players with this trait at my club, and it is not something you can ask players to learn. For some reason, they need to learn it from another player. C’est la vie.
First up, I’ll sort my players by their Technique attribute and then Corners [tip: hold shift and tap each row header you want to sort on, you want the arrows to point down, one for the first sort, two for the second] and look for common positions where we’re strong in a particular area. In this case, my two left Inside Forwards have high Technique and are okay with Corners and Crossing so I will have those take my corners. This will give us the variation of in-swinging and out-swinging attacking corners depending on the side at they are taken.
The reason I ask players of the same position to take my corners is that FM20 set pieces require you to place players into positions based on their playing position, so if I have my AML and AMR setup to take corners, then when my AMR is taking them, his position on the pitch won’t be used.
Here’s an example: when my AML takes the corner there would be no one lurking at the near post. When my AMR takes the corner there would be no one lurking outside the area.
Since I like to place my corner taker with the Stays Back instruction so I know where he is, I will also then make sure that all the players in that position are on corner duties so I don’t have to change corner tactics when I change players in these positions on match days.
My FM20 Attacking Corners Taker
My main corner taker is 24-year-old Sabiá. He doesn’t have the best corner taking attribute and his technique isn’t as high as it could be, but the combination is good enough to net us 12 goals from the last 15 matches from attacking corners.
If anything, the above should highlight that you can still get good results from set-piece deliveries even if your players don’t have the best attributes for the job. I tend to believe you have better results with the person at the end of the crosses, so that is where I spend most of my focus.
Set Piece Delivery Instructions – Attacking Corners
Tactics > Set Pieces > Corners
To change the delivery instructions, when viewing the attacking corner set-piece routine select the position on the pitch (bottom right) and you should see the menu on the right change to give you options for the set-piece taker. It should show you the important attributes, along with the player instructions.
The options to select from when picking which delivery instructions for attacking corners to use are:
Mixed will instruct corner takers to keep their deliveries varied and not stick to any one particular strategy. I won’t ever use this delivery instruction as I prefer to know where the ball is going so that I can set up the right men to be on the end of the cross, usually the guy with the best Jumping Reach.
Short will instruct corner takers to prioritise short corners; quickly passing the ball to a team-mate to retain possession and construct an attack in that manner rather than sending the ball into the penalty area directly. This is particularly useful if you’re trying to run the clock down or if you don’t have any players with good Jumping Reach to get on the end of crosses.
Near post will instruct the corner takers to aim predominately for the near post area. This is one of the two instructions that I use and it’s particularly useful when you have players who have good Jumping Reach and can get ahead of their marker with good Anticipation.
Far post will instruct corner takers to aim predominately at the far post area. As above, this is another instruction that I will use.
Edge of area will instruct corner takers to aim predominately for the edge of the area with their deliveries, seeking to find a team-mate dropping off into space to collect possession. I’ve tried to use this before but I always find the opposition manages to get to the ball ahead of my players and we waste the chance to get a shot on goal. If you have any success with this I’d love to hear about it.
6 yard box will instruct corner takers to aim predominately for the six-yard area with their deliveries; perhaps the most recognised and standard manner in which corners are taken. I find this also the hardest place to get success. This is commonly packed with defenders and I find it hard to get a good shot away from this position.
My FM20 Attacking Corners Delivery Instructions
Following the Lyon match I talked about in the opening paragraph, I decided I wanted to have two routines for attacking corners. The first routine takes advantage of near post-delivery. The second, a far post delivery. The Lyon match, in particular, we hit all our crosses at the near post and not a single one found our man.
After that match I built a far post tactic that would alternate to give us different options should we come across similar again. Fortunately, with a preseason of testing, I was able to build something just as good as the near post routine, if not better! I will show the routines below.
For crossing instructions I use mixed on my tactic so the delivery type, whipped, floated etc. will also be mixed for corners.
Player Positioning – Attacking Corners
This is perhaps one of the most interesting parts of building attacking corners in Football Manager 2020. There are a lot of positions available on the pitch to put your players into. Some would argue we need more, but we have a good amount to create some useful routines.
No specific instructions is a weird instruction because there’s no help text to give you an idea on what the player might be up to. Watching a couple of corners with this setting seems to place the player in the box rather randomly. Since everyone has a purpose I wouldn’t use this one personally.
Stay back will instruct players to remain back in a defensive capacity when the team has a corner kick. This is usually the two full-backs who have the pace to deal with any counter attacking threat but lack the height to be a menace in the opposition box. I don’t normally leave more than two back when we have corners. Requires good Acceleration, Teamwork, Marking, Tackling, Positioning, and Decisions.
Stay back if needed will instruct players to stay back and defend if needed when the team has a corner kick. If the opposition puts a few players forward when they’re defending corners then these players will drop back to cover, otherwise they’ll also be in and around the box ready for the attacking corner delivery. Requires good Acceleration, Teamwork, Marking, Tackling, Positioning, and Decisions.
Go forward will instruct players to go forward and attack when the team has a corner kick. It’s similar no specific instruction. Players will go forward and be in the box when the corner is delivered. Sometimes I will use this one when I want some random movement in the box. Requires good Jumping Reach, Strength, Heading, Off The Ball, Bravery, Finishing, and Decisions.
Attack near post will instruct players to attack the ball at the near post when the team has a corner kick. I would use this setting when aiming the corners to the near post, or to create a decoy run if I was delivering corners to the edge of the area. Requires good Jumping Reach, Strength, Heading, Off The Ball, Bravery, Finishing, and Decisions.
Attack far post will instruct players to attack the ball at the far post when the team has a corner kick. I will use this when I’m aiming corners to the far post, or if I’m heading to the near post and have a player lurking at the near post who might be able to get a flick on to the on-rushing player behind. Requires good Jumping Reach, Strength, Heading, Off The Ball, Bravery, Finishing, and Decisions.
Attack ball from edge of area will instruct players to attack the ball from the edge of the area when the team has a corner kick. I will use this if I notice that the opposition doesn’t have many players on the edge of the box. I would have decoy runs coming into the near and far post to draw the opposition away from this player. Requires good Jumping Reach, Strength, Heading, Off The Ball, Anticipation, and Finishing.
Lurk at near post will instruct players to attempt a near-post flick on when the team has a corner kick. This is particularly useful if you have players at the far post who can anticipate the near-post flick-on. It is also useful to block the keeper’s view or to occupy defenders when you’re delivering to the far post. Requires good Jumping Reach, Strength, Heading, Off The Ball, Bravery, Finishing, and Decisions.
Lurk at far post will instruct players to stand at the far post when the team has a corner kick. This is useful in similar ways when you deliver the ball to the near post. So you can have players ready to anticipate a flick-on or to occupy opposition defenders when you’re delivering to the near post. Requires good Jumping Reach, Strength, Heading, Off The Ball, Bravery, Finishing, and Decisions.
Lurk outside area will instruct players to look for loose balls when the team has a corner kick. I would have decoy runs coming into the near and far post and also have a player attacking from the edge of the area to make this work. These players are also useful to win any cleared balls and get a long shot at goal. They can also be useful to help prevent the counter-attack if the opposition wins the ball. Requires good Finishing, Long Shots, First Touch, Passing, Technique, and Decisions.
Mark keeper will instruct players to stand in front of the goalkeeper and obscure his view during a corner. I will use this when I am delivering crosses to the 6-yard box and far post to block the ‘keepers view of the ball. It can also be useful when crossing to the edge of the box for one of your players to take a shot. Requires good Jumping Reach, Strength, Heading, Off The Ball, Bravery, Finishing, and Decisions.
Come short will instruct players to offer a shorter option when the team has a corner kick. Sometimes I use this to draw a defender away from the penalty area. It can be useful to have a decoy here sometimes. I use this in my current setup to sweep up any clearances that come back this way and to help the attacking corner takers. Requires good Crossing, Dribbling, Passing, Technique, Anticipation, and Decisions.
My FM20 Attacking Corners Far Post Player Positioning
So let me talk you through the attacking corners far post delivery positioning. Typically, I find that the AI will tend to only really have one player, if any, with the instruction to Stay Forward. With this in mind, I will usually only have my two full-backs with the instruction to stay back. They’re both quick enough to deal with any counter-attacks if they need to.
I also out of habit put my corner taker on Stay Back just so they’re out of the way because for some reason they remain on the pitch even when they’re also on the corner ready to take the pitch. Please fix this, SI.
Standing with the taker is my Defensive Midfielder. This will draw out one of the opposition players who will come to mark him. I do this to reduce the numbers in the box.
I usually place my two central midfielders to Lurk Outside Area as you will know if you read the above that these players usually hang around waiting for any loose balls. If we lose the first header, they are both adept at Long Shots and we have scored many goals like this.
Looking at the important attributes required for this role, my midfielder has it all. Granted, his finishing is a little low here, but try telling him that when he is tapping the ball into an empty net when it’s headed right into his path.
The other central midfielder also has these good attributes. Which is what you’d expect from this position anyway. I would recommend that you also use these sorts of players in these positions. You’ll be surprised by how many second balls they get from here.
My Attacking Midfielder (Right) is here more as a decoy. His movement into the box will take any lurking defenders back into the box with him when he makes this run, giving the central midfielders more time and space on the ball if it falls to them.
The striker’s job is to get in the way of the ‘keeper to make it harder for him to come and claim the ball. By obscuring his view we generally see that the ball makes its way to the far post where my two players with the best Jumping Reach are waiting. In the DCR position, I will usually play the lesser of the two who is there to cause confusion and win any second balls. The DCL will always be the player with the best Jumping Reach.
It’s very rare that you find a player who is perfect for a role you want him to do, but as soon as I came across Nikolaou I knew I needed to sign him. He was just 17 when we picked him up, but even back then he had 18 Jumping Reach. Given his height, I knew we could get this to 20 so we gave him specific Strength individual training which trains Jumping Reach. He has also improved his Heading by three points.
With four goals in four games so far this season, it goes to show that with the right man on the end of the attacking set pieces, you can be a bit more relaxed with who is taking them.
With my central defender being the joint top scorer this season it does worry me a little that we might be a slightly over-reliant on these set pieces, but as I alluded to earlier at the start of this post, set-piece goals are so undervalued so if they can be the difference between a loss and a draw, or a draw and a win then I will take any edge that I can get.
Nikolaou highlighted here spots the corner is about to come in and runs from behind against his marker. My number 7 is also looking to attack the ball from the edge of the area, drawing away one of the defenders outside the area. You will also see that my two central midfielders outside the box are close together and only being picked up by one player. Ideally, I would like these two on either side of the D, but you cannot force them to stand this way.
Here are a couple of the goals we have scored this season. You will notice a similar pattern with these. It all seems a bit too easy.
My FM20 Attacking Corners Near Post Player Positioning
I won’t go into too much detail for the near post attacking corners since most of the rationale is covered above. But I will explain some of the differences.
With the near post deliveries, I find the AI covers this area a little better so we have a couple of players with the instruction to Go Forward as to occupy the minds of these players to leave a bit more space for the central defenders operating at the near post.
At the back I have a player attacking the far post just in case the ball falls to the DCR who will oftentimes flick it on to the player in space. This has worked on a couple of occasions and I fancy my central midfielders chances when just marked by one other player.
In the clips below you’ll notice how the ‘keeper doesn’t even move for some of these as the striker is blocking his view. We even have a flick on as described above.
FM20 Set Pieces Downloads – Attacking Corners
Everything I have spoken about today is available to download if you would like to give them a go in your own saves. If you want to use the above view, you can also download a copy from the link below.
FM20 Set Piece Attribute Views
I have included my set piece attributes view from FM if you would like to use the same views as me when selecting your set piece takers.
For mac: Users > [your computer name] > Library > Application Support > Sports Interactive > Football Manager 2020 > views
For PC: Documents > Sports Interactive > Football Manager 2020 > views
FM20 Set Pieces
To instal, download the file and place it in your set pieces folder. You should find this
For mac: Users > [your computer name] > Library > Application Support > Sports Interactive > Football Manager 2020 > set pieces
For PC: Documents > Sports Interactive > Football Manager 2020 > set pieces
FM20 set pieces are one of those neglected parts of the game that really can be the difference between a few points each season. These points can be the difference between relegation and survival, mid-table and European football or even better, second place and league champions! Preseason is the perfect time to try out new routines as you can pick weaker opposition which usually generates a lot more set-piece opportunities.
Have fun creating routines, or if you use mine, I’d love to hear how you get on.
As always, if you made it this far, thank you for reading along. You can get in touch with me in the comments below, via twitter @fmfutbolmanager, or my slack channel #fmFutbolManager — if you’re not a part of the Football Manager Slack community, then you can join here!
Until next time.