Last updated on March 28th, 2022
When a team is defending a freekick, you may see the defenders form a wall. Moreover, there may be a player who is lying down just behind the wall!
Is there a reason why football players do this?
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Why do footballers lie behind the wall?
Several teams and players have developed a routine of lying down behind the wall, to prevent the possibility of an under-the-wall freekick being scored by the opponent. The player that is lying down will block the low driven shot and prevent a goal from being scored.
In most situations, the freekick taker plays the freekick over the wall to beat the goalkeeper. However, there are times when the freekick taker may shoot a low-driven shot, so the ball will go under the wall when the players jump.
Since the goalkeeper will expect the player to curve the ball, this may leave him stranded and the goal will stand!
There are several goals that have been scored from this simple technique. It was a go-to technique for players like Ronaldinho, Messi, Ronaldo and etc.
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His freekick technique was successful because there was no player lying behind the wall!
As such, the defensive approach of lying behind the wall was developed to prevent such a goal from being scored. Usually, if the freekick taker attempts to play under the wall, the player lying behind the wall will be able to block the ball.
For example, Inter Milan’s midfielder Marcelo Brozovic was able to stop a freekick from Luis Suarez by lying behind the wall. This is an example of a successful approach to defending the low freekicks.
The freekick is a set-piece where it is possible for you to be called offside.
Is it legal to lie behind the wall in football?
There are no rules in the Laws of the Game that prohibit any defensive approach against freekicks. As such, it is possible to lie behind the wall, unless a foul or handball is committed in the process.
In Rule 13 (Free Kicks) in the Laws of the Game, it was mentioned that there is no offence when a player lies behind the wall.
As such, any player can lie behind the wall to block low freekicks. Although it is unconventional, lying behind the wall is very effective and within the bounds of the rules in football.
Who invented lying behind the wall in football?
Like many other techniques in football, it is hard to pinpoint who exactly invented this approach.
However, freekick takers have been long known to evade the wall by simply driving the ball low.
The low freekick technique was still highly effective until a Brasileiro Série A match in 2013 between Figueirense and Palmeiras. During the game, Figueirense midfielder, Ricardinho threw himself to the ground in an attempt to defend against an anticipated low freekick from Valdivia, Palmeiras’ freekick specialist.
Although Valdivia did not play the ball under the wall, the unorthodox technique caught waves. It became a recurrent trend in Brazilian football.
Thus, Flavio decided not to play a low freekick because the defender was lying behind the wall. He scored by bending the ball into the top corner instead.
Even though the technique was not so successful, it intrigued the football world, even more so when top footballers like Marcelo crouched behind the wall. Marcelo did this for Brazil during a World Cup qualifier against Argentina in 2016.
Fellow Brazilian international teammate Coutinho also implemented the tactic in a 2016 Premier League match. Coutinho knelt behind the wall to block an attempt from Tottenham midfielder Christian Eriksen.
After these instances, many other players began to indulge in the approach until it became as common today.
Some examples of players who lie down behind the wall
Many players have taken to lying down behind the wall for freekicks. Here are 2 examples:
#1 Lionel Messi
Messi is regarded as one of the best players ever after winning the most Ballon d’Or awards. His prominent accolades have come with Barcelona and Argentina, although he now plays for Paris Sain-Germain.
As Messi himself is notorious for glorious freekicks, the Argentine is one of the most recent players to lie behind the wall. During a Champions League group stage match against Manchester City, Messi decided to help his team by using this tactic.
Because of this, Kevin De Bryune could not attempt a low freekick and opted for a higher placement instead, which was saved by the keeper.
#2 Douglas Costa
The Brazilian is notable for his dazzling skills and menacing dribbles. Costa has achieved many great things, especially with the likes of Bayern Munich and Juventus. He has also been performed well on the international stage with Brazil.
During a Bundesliga match, Costa opted to lie down behind the wall of his Bayern Munich teammates.
This occurred against Arminia Bielefield during the 2020-21 season and his move gained traction from the media.
#3 Roma defender
One of the players lay down behind the free kick wall to prevent Zlatan Ibrahimovic to score a goal.
Despite that, Ibrahimovic still managed to score the goal while the goalkeeper was left standing still!
Italy is known for their great defenders, and here’s an article explaining why this is so.
Football players are allowed to lie down behind the wall in a freekick situation. This tactic is used to defend against low freekick attempts.
Many top footballers have widely used it in several matches and will continue to do so when necessary!
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