Guzan arguably still had in the back of his mind Sigurdsson's free kick against him last season when he went the other way:
A few weeks ago the boot was on the other foot as Christian Eriksen scored twice from free kicks v Swansea, both of which he put to Fabianski's side:Great clip of Swansea City's Sigurdsson's Free-Kick vs Aston Villa http://t.co/gv99hxrfJf— Hansel Henson (@HANSELHENSON) December 27, 2014
When facing elite players, I argued in my Opta Forum presentation that maybe a different strategy was needed and highlighted this example from a Nice B game:
Sigurdsson and Eriksen are arguably two of the best free kick takers in the league but sample sizes are generally too small to get a true conversion rate for an individual, but we do have enough data to start to make some assumptions is general.Going to keep posting this, worth trying against likes of Gylfi/Eriksen who make free kicks look easy https://t.co/t5WQ4RmKfk— Swans Stats (@We_R_PL) October 25, 2015
I don't have the same quality of data as provided by Opta for my forum presentation (so any errors will be mine rather than Opta data issues) but I have put together an analysis of the outcomes of over 9,000 direct shots from free kicks taken in the big 5 Euro leagues (last 5 full seasons for Premier League, last 3 full seasons for La Liga/Serie A/Bundesliga/Ligue 1).
At the top level, overall 5.8% of direct free kick shots end up in a goal but of course that varies by location:
As you'd expect, the closer and more central a free kick, the higher the conversion rate, when looking at distance from goal (in a straight line and ignoring any angle to goal), conversion drops sharply from 25 yards out:
The other point to make is the relatively high conversion (6.9%) for long distance wide of goal attempts, my guess is that a lot of these are from free kicks that are 'put in the mixer' and end up going straight in. It's open play rather than a free kick, but this goal from Andros Townsend is a good example of an effort that probably wouldn't have been classed as a shot until it ended up going in.
One of the other areas I covered in the Opta Forum presentation was how different teams approached free kicks in attacking areas, some shot pretty much whenever possible and some only shot in the prime positions.
Looking at the highest/lowest free kick shot volumes, tho two Madrid teams come out at opposite ends of the spectrum, I would expect Real to have more possession than Atletico in general but there's no doubt that Atletico are passing up the lower chance shots in favour of crossing rather than shooting.
|Top Teams by Season, Real Madrid with 3 of the top 20|
|Atletico with just 6 direct shots in La Liga last season, down from 11 the year before and 15 in 2012/13. Lens' shot volume will in part be due to them finishing bottom in Ligue 1 last season.|
Looking at the teams with the highest shot volumes, there were a lot of Serie A teams in the top 20, which is also seen when comparing the leagues as a whole:
How much above average the likes of Sigurdsson and Eriksen are when it comes to free kicks is hard to quantify but feels like they take the art of free kick taking to a different level and that in some cases having a standard wall helps rather than hinders them.
Value of Corners - Outcome of 25,000 Analysed
There's plenty of free kick compilations out there but as a Swans fan enjoyed this goal compilation of the U18s Kyle Copp who has some great ones already on his showreel:
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