Beyond set pieces: the impact of a corner kick

We analyse how influential goals from corner kicks are between league champions and current leaders of Europe's top leagues.


16.67% of the goals Juventus scored in the 2018-19 season came from a corner kick. This is the highest figure for corner kicks among the league champions of the five major European leagues in the last five years. And a figure that reflects the value of not only the set-piece, which includes fouls that are mostly direct shots where the quality and talent of the kicker is influential, but also counting only corner kicks, a moment of the game where the coaching staff have enormous influence, often designing a large number of chances that provide a large percentage of goals and points for champion teams. An aspect that undoubtedly makes a difference.

Names such as Gianni Vio, the great figure of set pieces in top level football, Nicolas Jover, Bernardo Cueva or Kevin Nolan have been responsible for increasing the quality of set pieces in Premier League teams, being the case of Jover, ex-Manchester City, especially relevant due to his move to Arsenal, where he is making his mark with his sensational work. In this graph we can see how Arsenal and Napoli, the only clubs with 50 points in the first round, are also two of the teams that generate the most expected goals from set pieces. But we can go even further.

We wanted to find out how important the corner kick has been among the league champions over the last five years, where you can see how Manchester City have seen this facet improve in the face of the huge competition Liverpool have provided at the top of the table in years gone by, or how Paris Saint-Germain have not needed the set piece to dominate French football.

Regardless of whether it means 1-0 or not, the set piece has been understood as a one-on-one situation where the lesser quality team could exploit the difference, but it is the best teams in Europe that have also managed to make a difference to their competitors from corners, a situation, on the other hand, that is very common for them to add up to numerous attacks that end in corners.

As we see in the first graph, it is interesting to note how few goals are being generated by a Bayern side struggling at the moment, with Eintrach Frankfurt and RB Leipzig close behind in the standings, as opposed to previous seasons, with 12% or more goals generated from corners in three of the last five seasons. Up to 11 of their 92 goals in the 2021/22 season came in this way.

To see how this is playing out, you only have to look at what Arsenal and Napoli are doing, the clear leaders. Not only are they the teams that generate the most play and dominate the game, but no other team scores more goals from corner kicks than they do, with special attention to the Italians, with 10 of their 46 goals coming from a corner of the pitch, more than 21%.

We are Driblab, a consultancy specialized in the statistical analysis of players and teams; our work is focused on advising and minimizing risk in professional football decision-making in areas related to talent detection and footballer evaluations. Our database has more than 200,000 players from more than 180 competitions, covering information from all over the world. Here you can learn more about how we work and what we offer.

Autor: Alejandro Arroyo
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