Are Corner Kicks Becoming Irrelevant in Football?


Corner kicks are always greeted with a thunderous
roar. They bring hope, however hopeless they actually prove to be.
Statistically, corners are football’s least effective set-piece and are in a worrying
state of decline. Since 2000, across Europe’s big-five
leagues, they have led to a goal just 3.3 percent of the time. 4 in 10 corners don’t clear the first man,
16 percent result in an attempt on goal, just 7
percent end up on target and, perhaps most damningly, only one in every hundred
leads directly to a goal. Arguably the biggest casualty of the Premier
League era is the corner. It was a potent threat in England’s old
Division One. Beefy centre-backs, like Manchester United’s Steve Bruce would charge forward,
providing a regular threat to goal. Since the post war era until the inception
of the Premier League in 1992, corners created goals 6.5 percent of time. So why has that
number more than halved? The simplest theory is defenders have become
more astute, especially since the advent of video technology. They know what’s coming
and can practice resisting it in training. Teams also commit less players forward to
prevent being hit on the counterattack. This is a
slightly irrational fear, since only 7 of the Premier League’s 56 fast break goals
came from corners last season. Nonetheless, whereas
Arsenal’s 2003-2004 ‘Invincibles’ averaged almost 6 attackers inside the box per corner,
by the time Arsene Wenger left in 2018 that number had dropped to under 5.
But the problem runs deeper than just savvier defenders or less cavalier attackers. It can
also be pinned on the irrational rise of the out-swinging
corner. Of the 120 goals scored from corners in the Premier League last season
48 came from outswingers. Yet they accounted for
62 percent of the 3,911 taken. This is statistically mirrored in Spain, Germany,
Italy and France. Outswinging corners have less pace and more
velocity, providing defenders with extra time to deal with danger. Even if the attacker
wins the ball they tend to be further from goal and
it’s tougher, with a higher (and often lofted) ball-flight, to generate power.
There are ways to combat this, like a longer run ups from outside the box, or heading the
ball firmly into the ground first, but these two trends have faded from fashion.
Inswinging corners have their own issues. They come with greater risk but much bigger
rewards. The ideal delivery is to whip in the ball at a lower, inviting angle just past
the penalty spot, leaving onrushing goalkeepers in limbo. But inswingers have no margin for
error: almost 55 percent failed to clear the first man in the Premier League last
season. Some of the league’s biggest teams appear
to have also forgotten the optimal delivery zone,
instead aiming for the spot between the penalty spot and six-yard area. To be effective here,
a drilled cross is usually required and that’s far simpler to execute in open play from more
beneficial angles and in a less congested box.
On paper, Manchester United, Tottenham and West Ham were the most wasteful
last season. In fact, the trio managed just four goals collectively using this tactic.
Tottenham’s Cristian Eriksen was the biggest individual offender. 66% percent of the Dane’s
corners were cleared at the near post and his crossing accuracy was a miserable 14.4
percent. The top teams at inswingers in 2017-2018 were
Arsenal, Manchester Cit, Chelsea and Bournemouth. They not only scored
19 goals between them, but saw over 10 percent of inswingers lead to a shot
on target. Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola has always
favoured the inswinger. They accounted for 52 percent of his corners at Bayern Munich
between 2013-2016 and 55 percent of those during his Barcelona stint between 2008-2012,
thus bucking the trend and leading to 41 goals in the process.
Under Pep, City’s return of 8 goals from 284 corners last season was also much improved.
Before he joined, City had the fourth-worst return from corners, managing a goal every
81 compared to one every 35.5 now. Guardiola
is also an advocate of the much- maligned short-corner. Since 2000, it has led to more
goals, chances and shots on target than any other typeof delivery.
Short-corners, especially when taken quickly, offer better angles for both out- and
inswingers. They have a higher success of beating the first man and give attackers time
to make unpredictable and quick movements, forcing defenders to react more quickly.
But ultimately the success of any type of corner is determined by quality of delivery.
Bizarrely, in the modern game, a number of top clubs don’t do their corner takers any
favours, providing them with an slender run-up zone. For instance, the touchline at Old
Trafford is on a slope, while Tottenham’s new 1 billion-pound stadium has just a foot
of turf available before a steep decline towards the
advertising boards. The perfect corner can be assessed on both
the the area the ball was placed and, regardless of delivery, whether the end result led to
a meaningful chance or goal. Using this criterion, Pep Guardiola argues the best corner taker
in the Premier League is James Ward-Prowse. But the Southampton midfielder’s numbers
are actually quite uninspiring with just 8 assists
from 247 corners, although his crossing accuracy is a respectable 28 percent.
Based on players with over 150 Premier League appearances, the most valuable Premier
League corner takers are Cristiano Ronaldo, Cesc Fabregas , Ryan Giggs
and Chris Brunt. Part of this quartet’s success is varied
ball placement. Football’s ‘Millennium’ fad is to put
the ball as close to the outside of the corner arc as possible. This allows for the longest
possible run up and the white line also provides a point of reference for impact. But it can
lead to predictable delivery. This still works fine for inswingers, but
outswingers actually have slightly more success when the ball is placed nearer to the flag.
So, the key to taking better corners: use inswingers, move the ball-placement back and
commit an extra player to the box. As for those vilified short-corners, they’ll probably
continue to get bad press. But as statistical analysis improves and becomes better accepted,
affording defences an advantage in preparation, they just might be the corner’s best hope
of staying relevant.

100 thoughts on “Are Corner Kicks Becoming Irrelevant in Football?

  1. A note for those confused regarding the pace/velocity comment: Inswingers are indeed hit with more pace (judged on impact at the time of delivery and even speed when the ball is connected with, although very few leagues or grounds have the technology to accurately read the latter, but those with set piece studios in training do. Clubs like Midtjylland). They cover distance faster.
    But outswingers change direction quicker. The position or path of the ball alters more rapidly even if hit with less pace. So it is very possible to have a lower speed but higher velocity. True fact!

  2. Maybe a new "corner" could be taken from where the penalty box line meets the bye line, and could be used for when the ball has gone out from the penalty area.

    This would give an extra reward for near misses, etc, and add a little variety.

  3. Matthijs de Ligt 🙂 Just ask Juventus, Tottenham and Englands national squad who've alle recently had the pleasure 🙂

  4. A corner kick's irrelevance is dependent on players or teams and not the rule. Even if one goal comes from a corner, it has the potential to turn a match on its head. Accept the fact that defenders are performing better. It is not atall irrelevant

  5. Does the decline in % of goals scored from corners have anything to do with the increase in short corners taken? So, for example, is a goal scored from 3,4,5 passes from a short corner counted as a 'goal from a corner' or just a goal from open play?

    If not counted as a goal from a corner, then are those corners removed from the 'corners taken' or 'corners won' statistics?

    A lot of the statistics around corners, I feel, is based on what you view as a 'goal from a corner'. Is there a correlation between the rise in % of short corners taken to the loss of % of goals directly from corners?

  6. Hey Tifo i absolutely beg you. Make a Video about Schalke and what David Wagner can or could not do. Perhaps what would be the absolute superlative explain why Tedescos Schalke went from 2nd place to disaster. I know many people would love to know more about the Bundesliga and Schalke is by the count of supporters in the biggest Club (not Company etc) in Europe. I hope you read this. Love your videos

  7. Tifo Football : “ Corner kicks are becoming irrelevant in football “

    Barca : “ am I a joke to you….”

  8. I think it's obvious to any fan of American football (gridiron football, just so there's no misunderstanding) that soccer is ripe for a set piece revolution. Every corner and every set piece within 10m of the box is a golden opportunity to score, and they're largely wasted.

    40% of corners don't make it past the first man? Then for the love of God, stop hitting it low and hard.

  9. I think there has to be a different word you are thinking of. Velocity is speed in a given direction, with the only difference being that the direction is specified. They are not really two different characteristics. I think the word you are looking for is that the ball is struck with more Force. Depending on how that force is applied to the ball it could have a varying outcome on the velocity/speed/pace.

  10. Two weeks ago we scored from a corner the equalizer 90+1…..3 minutes later even the winning gol. So…..Very important the Corners 😁

  11. 1:09 On the other hand, maybe so few counter attack goals resulted from corners BECAUSE teams didn't put so many attackers in the box. It's a leap to call it irrational when you haven't established a causal link.

  12. Might it be that only 7 goals came on breaks because teams were leaving more defenders back? You call that an irrational fear, but used the latest season's stats, which seem to validate the practice. This needs stats on fast breaks from previous seasons when teams committed more forward on their corner kicks.
    I think the overall idea on that point is that the chance to score by sending more forward for the corner kick far outweighs the risk of being caught on a counter, but only half a case (attacking) was presented.

  13. In the thumbnail you can change what foot the guy is using, depending on what corner you make him kick from

  14. So wait: teams commit less players forward to prevent being hit on the counter, but that's a 'slightly irrational fear' you say, because teams were rarely hit on the counter from corners last season?? That's like saying people use contraception to avoid getting pregnant, but thats an irrational fear because people using contraception hardly ever get pregnant!

  15. Wait a minute Tifo Football…
    If teams nowadays commit fewer players forward to avoid being hit on the counterattack, and as a result there are very few goals scored from corner kick counterattacks, the correct conclusion is that the strategy *works*, not that it is "irrational".

  16. It's a symptom of the bigger malaise in football over the past 25 years. Yes. Players are fitter and more organised and better at closing down, tracking and all the ugly stuff. But infinitely worse at the beautiful things such as dribbling, crossing, heading and finishing;;;

  17. Strange bit of logic at 1:30, if teams aren't committing to going forward for fear of counter attack goals, the fact that there aren't many doesn't mean that they shouldn't be worried, it could just mean that their lack of going forward keeps the number of counter goals down

  18. Hello team Tifo my favorite YouTube channel please do one video on AFCON Before this Friday’s kickoff

  19. Probably more down to defenders being allowed/more inclined to employ dubious tactics like holding shirts and grappling the attackers than in the old days.

  20. Ajax has been fairly consistent with their corners, what with De Ligt flying through and burying a goal every other game

  21. You’re the stupid cuck who tries to bring science into football. Corners are a vital piece of the game. Ask Liverpool. It might not be the best “set piece” or whatever tf you queers call it but it’s the most clutch chance you have at scoring a saving goal. You cant use statistics to explain miracles. They just happen when it’s most needed

  22. Next up, are throw ins becoming irrelevant? Lmao this video is so dumb, the objective of a corner is to put the ball back in play. Nowhere in the rule book does it say it’s a goal scoring opportunity

  23. Maybe only 7 of the 56 fast break goals came from corners last season because the teams were commiting less players up front? Kind of a miss analysis there.

  24. 1 in 30 corners resulting in a goal isn't all that bad. Given that there's an average of 11 corners per game that means that there is likely to be around 1 goal from a corner every 3 games. That still seems like a pretty relevant part of the game to me – you really want to make sure you're on the right end of that goal more often than not. Free kicks of course are better mostly because you can angle them in a goalward direction which you cannot do easily with corners. Not sure what the obsession with outswinging corners is, inswinging has always seemed the way to go for me. And yeah, I think everyone in the know knows that short corners are great because you can create the better angle, fans obviously get frustrated at them which probably has lessened their prevalence – though also I feel part of what makes a short corner good is that it's generally not expected, so if you did it too much you'd lose the unpredictability.

  25. Surprised that when comparing premier leage vs league one era, there was no mention of the greater protection keepers teceive nowadays.

    Also as part of the stats, were converted penaltoes added to this? If a penalty is the result of the corner and "better ability of defenders to defend the set piece" i wojld feel it should be recorded.

  26. I'd also be enthusiastic to see the counter attacking goals conceded from short corners vs traditional

  27. They're low percentage, not irrelevant. Most teams just aren't good at them. If you've got good routines and plays, clever timing, an accurate crosser, and 3 players around the 6 foot 2+ mark you can do damage. Liverpool have this.

  28. Corners only help the game of football. They have been the deciding factor in thrilling late games, the low percentage only makes things more interesting at certain points in the game. Imagine a game coming down to a corner and seeing it hit the back of the net. Ramos In UCL final, Liverpool’s great comeback or even Japan and Belgium

  29. There are a lot of teams, coaches and players that can't use the corner kick effectively… but when there is a good coach who knows how to set up his attackers for a corner, a good corner taker who sees open spaces and runs with a great crossing technique and most importantly if you have a couple of players that are great at heading the ball then the corner kick is a very scary weapon. It's hard to have all those things of course… but teams should focus on set pieces more IMO.

  30. Aren't the stats really meaningless when it comes to goals scored from a corner kick etc.? I mean do you have stats for attacks that go down the right wing and end with a cross for example? Or what are you comparing the number to?

  31. it must be noted short corners are often used to facilitate an outswinging cross further from the goal line

  32. Not the best video guys. The stats dont show much decline. 3% of corners are goals is a good stat. Arsene Wenger had 6 in the box and 14 years later when he left he had 5 in the box, thats not much of a difference at all

  33. I have no idea what you mean by pace/velocity, but you cannot say "more velocity" if you differentiate velocity from pace. Velocity is a vector, you cannot compare vectors without a metric, and the default metric is precisely pace 🙂 Pace is the scalar version of velocity, if you want to compare velocities and somehow don't use pace as the metric – you need to specify along which axis you are going to measure these velocities.

  34. Corner kicks are a waste. You'd have as much a chance if the teams threw it in from the corner, and an actual chance if they threw in from where the ball went out.

  35. Like to see the stats for when Alan Woodward played for Sheffield United in the late 1960s and early 1970s. It seemed as tho they scored from 1 in 4 corners. Or is that just a false memory? But he was able to score direct from an inswinging corner

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