There are free kick situations in the game of soccer that seem like they are absolute truths in how they are defended. As a result of Messi's three goals in a week, and especially the first one that marks the Night of Wises in San Mamés, I remembered a reflection of years ago about these types of shortages on one side, ideal for a specialist. On this occasion, the strike was a lefty and not a right-footed strike, although that lefty was Messi, capable of scoring goals from all angles and distances with a millimeter accuracy, as has shown against Athletic and Villarreal. But that lack of defending the free kick strike came to me as a gift. Why do not the goalkeepers put the barrier (wall) on the other post?
Let's see the goal of Messi and I will explain.
The barrier placement is as customarily done and Gorka, the goalkeeper, covering the near post, has four points in my view:
1. The kicker has a reference: The player who hits is accustomed to kick with a barrier, and knows that the shot must pass between second and third player (or first and second), so if it is a specialist, this strike is habitual.
2. Goalkeeper loses reaction time: He does not see the ball until the ball crosses the barrier, so his visibility is limited and his reaction comes later.
3. Smallest distance from the goal: Pure math. The nearest post to the foul is less than the farthest post, so with a slight reduction in distance, the ball comes earlier and the goalkeeper has less time to save the ball.
4. Quality effect: The foul kick that Messi is placed at usually is kicked by a right foot, so if the goalkeeper is placed on the far post this favors the striker, since the threat goes from the inside out.
What do we do if we put the barrier to the other post?
We explain it in a simple way. The goalie is in front of the kicker and the barrier covers the other post. The goal is to get the ball out, whether it is struck with power to the open side or over the barrier to the other, and if it is kicked by a right-foot (as usual) the ball is seen early because the effect is from outside to inside. If the striker looks for the far post, the ball takes longer to arrive because it is at a greater distance and the goalkeeper has more room for reaction.
Obviously, we must first analyze who the kicker is. Perhaps a free kick launched by Cristiano is more effective with a barrier to the orthodox style, as the Portuguese stands out for his power and strong kick. But with another striker, the far post barrier can be more effective. It is not a dogma, it is an opinion, but it gives detail to the goalkeepers in these situations to learn and train this type of free kick defending.