I could actually expand today’s article to the size of a book. When the set pieces come out, there’s always a lot of factors that we can take into account. I think that each of us has a briefcase with set pieces of the game during attack. Many variants and progressions. There are thousands of them.
So my analyze will not be focus on set pieces itself, but what happens few seconds after a failed corner, free kick, penalty, etc …

2nd attack

„Crossing not so much to score a goal immediately, but to collect second ball and finish with a shot in the second action.” M. Perarnau

So what is the 2nd attack?

Unfortunately, I haven’t found any professional definition of this part of the game. So I will try to create my own for needs of this article. This is the moment after our cross when the opponent’s first take the ball back but secondly knocks / loses the ball in the zone of ​​the penalty area, which creates a second opportunity to score a goal

1st attack: This is often an attack on the opponent’s organized defense
2nd attack: This is often an attack on the opponent’s disorganized defense
Sounds very simple and one could assume that this is a repetitive moment of the game while attacking. However, when we analyze the match from this point of view, it rarely occurs (if someone has extensive material on the 2nd action attack and could share please immediately contact me 😉).
More and more players in modern football are defending the penalty area. Looking at how France defended at the World Cup in Russia, it is impossible not to get the impression that everyone was defending. Therefore, collecting the 2nd ball is generally difficult from attacking point of view. However, as it happens in football, it all depends on a multitude of factors. In the video below, you will see the moment of 1st and 2nd attack while attacking.

2nd attack – open play

Of course, a rebound, or lot of players in small space near the goal after a shot and an attempt to hit the ball a second time, can also be defined as a 2nd attack. Second opportunity not always will give as lot of space

Penalty area is always a small space to attack

Mostly during 2nd attack we (as attackers) can have a positional superiority:

2nd attack: positional superiority

2nd attack in Set Pieces
The 2nd attack is much more common during SFG. This is the phase of the game that we can train and adapt in very detailed way. Very often coaches when they planning every free / corner kick pay attention to the players directly involved in execution. May only they be ultimately involved in this phase of the game – it would mean that we either scored a goal or shot over / next to the goal and we can organize ourselves in defending. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. We may lose a goal after…our set piece. And this is quite common situation (counterattack), so it is worth planning players who will possibly fight for the 2nd ball, thus for the possibility of a 2nd attack.

Players who are responsible for protecting opp’s penalty box

If we put these players in the right place to increase chance to collect the ball  (2nd attack). When it happen our tall players should therefore stay in the penalty area. Tomas Petrasek from Raków Częstochowa does it very well in our Polish Ekstraklasa. He is a great header. When I analyzed his goals, there are of course most of them scored directly after corners / free kicks etc., but also some are scored a few seconds after set pieces. Here is an example goal scored by Petrasek after his 2nd attack:

Throw in – first attack
Movement between 1st and 2nd attack
Goal in 2nd attack

However, it would not be possible without the teammates (very well spaced) – increasing the probability of collecting the 2nd ball, and the 2nd attack in consequence.

It is very difficult to maintain proper organization in defense after kicking the ball out of the penalty area. Mainly for two reasons:
1. Defensive squeeze  (more about it here)
2. Opponents pay attention to the ball (where it was kicked) – situation is changing so first of all I need to look at the ball – this moment is te easiest way to lose your marker.

Defending 2nd attack – perspective

Players who in theory run into the penalty box can also take the ball in the 2nd attack. During the cross … stay on your position! This is how Salah scored in Liverpool vs Leeds. At the moment of the cross, he stopped and hit in the 2nd attack – after a knocked out ball;

Salah goal

Another example:

2nd attack

You can also back of in the moment of cross (Jimenez):

Jimenez goal.

In this two cases probably you will lose your marker.

The 2nd attack can be a very effective time to attack the opponent, who is usually not as well organized as when he first got the ball into the penalty area. This concept can be used at any level of the game (see also my team’s video below). Of course, this does not mean that I suggest training this content in youth groups. Nevertheless, the 2nd attack is also a reaction to a loss of the ball (defending transition). So when practicing this phase of the game, the 2nd attack may be the consequence of a good transition from attack to defense … or basically to attack 😉


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