Set-piece analysis: Grulla Morioka offensive corners

I’m genuinely intrigued, captivated and enchanted by set-pieces at this point. You might have seen that this is the third set-piece analysis article I’m writing in the last week or so, but I genuinely love them. Underappreciated and undervalued, but the effect of a set-piece can change a game or tilt the moment within a game. There are so many different routines and that’s why I continue writing these lovely analyses.

From Hansa Rostock to Dundalk, I’m concentrating on a whole different continent today. To be precise, I’m looking at the offensive corner routines of Grulla Morioka in Japan. They play in the third tier of Japanese football, the J3 League. Again, I’ve chosen this team and league to see how this is different from the top teams in Europe and to assess the qualities of that particular team in terms of set-pieces.

Grulla Morioka currently leads the J3 after fives games played and they have not lost since the start of the competition. Their aim will surely be to keep on top and get promotion to J2 League, but that’s something to concentrate on for the the future. I’m going to look at their attacking corner routines in their games this season.

Grulla Morioka vs Vanraure Hachinohe

In the video above you can see the first attacking corner routine as carried out by Grulla Morioka. They have set up as follows. The corner kick is taking from the right from a left-footed player, meaning the ball will swing in rather than swing out. There are two players standing outside the penalty area who have both a defending and attacking function; making sure to break any counter-attack or attacking the ball when it’s cleared by the defending team. In and around the six-yard box we see six players, but they have been divided in two units of three – as I’ve illustrated by connecting them in red.

At the moment the ball is kicked we see two separate runs/routines. The nearest unit moves as as an united to the near post luring defenders to the near post. At the same time, the second unit breaks. It’s expected that the unit moves into the space centrally, but only the player highlighted makes that run. In the process the defence is confused by the two player that stay deeper at the far post.

Those two players at the far post don’t get the ball, but in the case that one of the players at the near post heads the ball to the far post, they will have a clear opportunity to score a goal.

Grulla Morioka vs Imabari FC

In the video above we can see Grulla Morioka in their game against Imabari FC. The corner is taken by a left-footed player, meaning that it will swing in rather than out. Just like in the first corner routine – there are two players that are standing outside the penalty area with the function of attacking any cleared balls and providing guidance in case of a counter-attack.

When we look at what happens inside the penalty are we see that Morioka employs two units again. They have two units in this routine, but they each consist of two player instead of three. One unit occupies themselves centrally and the other unit stands at the near post. There’s one player standing deep into the penalty area, even past the far post who will make a run closer to the goal.

When the ball is kicked the front unit moves even more towards the corner on the right, dragging defenders with them. The other unit stays centrally, but because there is more space, the far post player moves in that position to create an overload in the air and hopefully head the ball on goal.

In this case the ball is touched and goes to the far post and there is no one there to profit from it, but it creates threat in the middle.

Grulla Morioka vs Nagano Parceiro

In the game against Nagano Parceiro, Morioka displayed a different routine to the ones mentioned before. In the video above we can see this. We see one player offering himself for the short pass option and we see another player standing outside the penalty area, who is responsible for guarding the first defensive duties in case of a counter-attack. In the penalty area we see one player at the penalty sport and we see another player standing in the six-yard box. The player in the six-yard box is tasked with blocking the defenders, while the player on the penalty spot tries to make use of that block, in running towards goal.

Past the far post, deeper into the penalty area we see a united of three who are guarded by three defending players. Their task is to make runs into the penalty area and move close to the far post. As we can see, the ball is played short and back, after which the right-footed player plays the ball deep into the penalty area.

The two players centrally move to the near post, which creates space in the middle and at the far post – as they drag players with them. That space is there to attack by the unit of three at the far post and the ball is played to them. A special role has been assigned to the player highlighted. He makes a run forward like the other players in the unit, but he also makes a run sideways so he ends up at the back – trying to confuse his marker.

Grulla Morioka vs Nagano Parceiro

In the video above we see another corner routine from Morioka, but this is from the same game as in attacking corner routine number 3. The idea of this corner doesn’t change on a lot of points, but the difference is in the details.

This time, the corner is taking from the right from a right-footed player, meaning the ball will swing out rather than in, which makes that the ball will land more in the middle of the penalty area. There is a short pass option and there’s one player standing just outside the penalty area to guard the line of defence and to attack the cleared ball. Again we see a unit of three past the far post and deep into the penalty area, while we see two players close to the six-yard box. The player closest to the goal has the task to drag his marker to an area that creates space elsewhere. That space can be attacked by the player on the penalty spot or by the three-man unit.

What’s different in this run is the way the three-man unit portray themselves in the run. Instead of playing close to each other, they break with one player going centrally, one player going to the far post and one player remaining on his position. This has the function that the ball can be played deep into the penalty area and there are different players to attack it, but it also has the function that the defenders need to make a decision if they defend the ball or the attacking players.

Final thoughts

Going into this analysis I didn’t know what to expect from the level of J3 League, but the routines were very interesting to see. Obviously the delivery and technique is different from top competitions in Europe, but that means that the players are more creative in their runs and details.

Game footage: Wyscout
Telestration: Metrica Play

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