Becoming a free kick specialist requires dedication, which few lack the time or effort to give. Just ask David Beckham or Andrea Pirlo who spent hours after hours practising and perfecting their dead ball free kicks. The story about Beckham is that he used to stay late after training to practise, pinging ball after ball towards an empty net. What that did was let the England midfielder prefect his stance, run up, positioning and technique which is why he became one of the worlds best free kick takers. But for those who can’t afford the time, the other way of practising is on the training pitch, where routines are worked out ahead of time which can be implemented at any given time during a game when the opportunity presents itself. Free kicks from the left, the right and the middle can be carefully choreographed almost to perfection.
When it works on the pitch, the results can be spectacular. Sweden executed a practiced routine during the 1992 European Championships, which resulted in a memorable goal for Tomas Brolin. Looking as though they were preparing for a shot, Jonas Thern and Andres Limpar stood over the ball 20 yards from goal. With the ball positioned in the centre of the pitch, everyone suspected that a powerful drive was going to be attempted. However Sweden had other ideas and as Limpar ran over the ball, Thern flicked the ball up and over the wall, perfectly onto an on running Brolin. With one touch Brolin dispatched the ball past the keeper to mark a well executed move.
Some teams however are not as lucky. Everyone can point to a free kick gone wrong where miscommunication or misunderstanding led to the move breaking down. Teams who get too creative ultimately fail, with very few special moves coming off just as it did for Sweden. During a recent match between Muangthong United and Gyeongnam in the Thai Premier League, Mauangthong were awarded a free kick some 25 yards out in the 27th minute with the score tied at 0-0. Two players, Mario Gjurovski and Pichitphong Choeichiu stood over the ball, looking at the opportunity that stood in front of them. After a short run up, Gjurovski appeared to fall over but as he did he remarkably headed the ball to his right for Choeichiu to attempt the strike. The shot was blocked and the play broke down much to the embarrassment of the two players.
Muangthong went on to win the game 1-0 but im sure that will be little comfort to Gjurovski and Choeichiu who will have had to go into training the next day and face their teammates. Maybe now the pair will decide to leave the free kicks to someone else in the team, in an attempt to avoid further embarrassment.
To see the free kick, click here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d0DOW6FUQ1Y