Enzo Misuraca Date: 3rd April 2015 at 10:00am
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is pleased to continue to bring its readers a regular feature — Il Mister.

Maurizio Sarri - Empoli

Our experts will endeavour to show you all the methods and tactical secrets employed by ’s best football coaches.

Set pieces are a crucial part of the modern game. Some teams can score as many as half their goals from dead-ball positions; therefore it makes sense that top clubs have routines they practice on the training ground, in order to maximise their chances of being successful during a match.

In this week’s ‘Il Mister’ we bring you the favoured moves as used by top coach Maurizio Sarri, who is impressing with lowly Empoli.

Rimessa Laterale

sarri throw inThe humble throw-in, itself a set piece, is not usually something many fans would consider is practiced on the training ground.  However, Sarri does have a routine that is effective in exploiting the flanks and getting a cross into the box.

The image here on the left, shows a switch of position by the two players in red, allowing the player who starts furthest from the goal to get a cross in. Note how his teammate is expected to put a block on his blue marker to allow his run to go unhindered.

Throw In 2

Our second throw-in routine again relies on a swap of position by two red players to make space. The nearest red player to the thrower comes very short, as if to receive the ball, and takes his marker with him.

The gap he leaves is then filled by his teammate who does receive the throw.  He then plays a quick one-touch pass to the thrower, who has made a run to the by-line, ready to send over a cross.


kick offThe kick-off is a very important set piece that certainly needs practice. Effectively, your team is already half way up the field, in possession and with the chance to make passes unopposed. It means that any well prepared coach will have a routine in place.

In the image we can see how Sarri’s carefully executed move can give his players various options in getting a ball into the opponent’s box.  Player number four is the key, as his pass will set the pattern for his teammates’ runs.


sarri corner 1Corners have always been a great source of goals and every serious football team will have a wealth of options when attacking corners. Sarri is no different.

Our first example sees a block of central players hoping to leave the area around the far post free for an attacker to exploit. The cross is swung out with some clever movement in the centre, allowing the player on the edge of the box to run towards the back of the six-yard area, hopefully unmarked.

corner 2 sarriOur second example places four players on opposite edges of the six-yard box, leaving free space around the penalty spot.  As the ball is sent in — aimed at the penalty spot — the two attackers placed outside the area cross each other in the hope that the confusion will allow an unguarded run to meet the ball and head towards goal.

The players on the edge of the six-yard box are ready to help deflect the ball or react to any clearances.

Punizione Laterale

free kick sarriEvery fan loves to watch a direct free kick curled into the top-corner; but in-direct kicks also need to be expertly prepared so their impact can be maximised, hopefully into goals.

Sarri likes to create space in the box by splitting his attacking options, forcing his opponent into leaving gaps in the area.

Our image shows two blocks of three players, placed on opposite sides of the “D”. The block nearest the ball will make arced runs towards the near post, leaving the furthest three players to attack the middle of the penalty area, in the hope of meeting the ball and heading at goal.

Don’t forget to check back regularly as we bring you more of Serie A’s top coaching secrets, only here at Forza Italian Football.