Why Football Players Lie Down During Free Kicks

Masterful free-kick takers are able to skillfully place the ball in the net from distance. Defenders are forced to do everything in their power to prevent conceding a goal when their opponents have a free kick in a threatening position according to ESPN.

In order to defend against free kicks, a formation known as a “wall” is used. This involves players standing in a line and jumping at the same time to prevent the ball from being kicked over them. The number of players in the wall can vary and the goal is to block the shooter’s angle to the goal.

Some players with clever tricks figured out that the defenders could be caught off guard if the ball was kicked low along the ground. As the defenders jumped the ball would slip under their feet and score a goal. The revolutionary technique posed a problem for defenders with the possibility of either an under or over jump.

So how could they defend against both?. The answer is to have one unlucky player lie flat on the ground to block low kicks.

One of the earliest instances of this tactic being used in a professional game can be traced back to Ricardinho, a Brazilian footballer who played for Figueirense in Brazil’s second-tier league Campeonato Serie B.

In a game versus Palmeiras in 2013, he dropped to the ground in an attempt to block Jorge Valdivia’s shot but the ball rebounded off the wall instead.

In 2018, Inter Milan’s midfielder Marcelo Brozović popularised the clever strategy. During a match against Barcelona, he noticed Luis Suarez was about to hit his free-kick low to get it underneath the defensive wall.

Brozović quickly hit the deck and successfully deflected the ball out of bounds. Since that time, it has become a more frequent occurrence in high-profile events.