The free kick according to Oussama Tannane: ‘Nice swabbing, keepers don’t like that’



43 times this season, a free kick has been shot at goal. Only once was it hit. Goalscorer: Oussama Tannane from Vitesse. In the preparation he also hit three times. So the question is quickly asked: Tannane, how do you take a free kick?

With a devastating free kick, Oussama Tannane catapulted himself and his club Vitesse to a strong start to the season. It was on Saturday, September 19 at 7:12 PM against Sparta when the 26-year-old midfielder placed his left instep against the ball at 30 meters from the goal, with a touch of the outside foot, which then flew into the intersection pregnant with effect.

Remarkable: after four rounds of play, it is the only striking free kick of a total of 43 (!) Attempts and fits in the downward line that was started last season (see box). Tannane suspects it is a coincidence. ‘In some seasons you have just a few more specialists. Lasse Schöne, who now plays in Italy, was one of them. ‘

He thinks it is ‘nice and special’ that he is still the only one to score from a free kick that has been shot at goal, but is especially happy with the concrete results. ‘We were a bit stuck against Sparta, after that goal we got more space and courage. The weeks after that it went well too. ‘

The value of a striking free kick is enormous, because teams in the back are organizing themselves better and defenders become more and more athletic. As a result, there is often no way through.

Free kick lesson

Time for free kick from Tannane, who also shot three in the preparation. How does the midfielder born in Tétouan, Morocco, and grew up in Amsterdam? That mainly depends on the distance to the target.

Tannane: ‘At less than 20 meters I mainly use my inner foot. The goal is closer, but so is the wall. ‘

Usually an attempt is made to lift the ball over the wall of opponents and then fall exactly into the nearest corner. The goalkeeper normally covers the furthest corner and, if the ball is perfectly kicked, is too late in the other corner.

It requires a lot of accuracy from the taker, in jargon: a lot of feeling. Tannane: “You can’t give the ball much speed, otherwise it will pass.”

Every taker has his own tactic. Ronald Koeman, specialist from the eighties and nineties, often hit his first free kick hard into the wall to scare that fright. The next one he placed just over the second and third men of the somewhat frightened wall.

Tannane: ‘Opponents are getting longer it seems, the wall is getting higher. I don’t know whether they will jump or stop. ‘

When they jump you can still shoot underneath as Lionel Messi once demonstrated. ‘But if that fails, it looks really ugly. And sometimes you see an opponent lying behind those jumping feet. ‘

So he chooses more often to place the ball with his inside foot along the wall in the far corner, where the keeper is standing. ‘The keeper often takes a step to the middle to quickly reach that other corner. You shoot past the wall and can therefore pedal harder. ‘

Just as a golfer exchanges his iron for a wooden club for longer distances, a footballer usually uses his instep in that case. Tannane: “The further away, the harder you have to shoot, because the keeper has more time to react.”

The shooting leg can be swung farther back and forth on the wedge kick. Pedaling with the inside of the foot has the advantage that there is more control because the contact surface of the inside of the foot is larger than that of the instep.

There are several options. You can hit the ball with the bulge of the instep in the heart so that it goes up quickly, but – if all goes well – drops down just before the goal. Compare it to a top spin lobe in tennis. Tannane: ‘The Portuguese Ronaldo is very good at that.’

Tannane more often opts for the mop kick as against Sparta. To do this, he must hit the ball with the instep and a little outside of the foot, causing it to rotate in the air. “The Brazilian Roberto Carlos was a master at it, he gave the ball an extreme curve.”

Nowadays balls often zigzag on their own when hit that way. ‘Especially those from Nike and Adidas swab nicely, which is why I prefer them. I sometimes ask goalkeepers what they think is the most annoying free kick and that is the mop ball. They don’t know where he will be. To be honest, I don’t know that in advance either. ‘

Tannane does not aim at the intersection, but at the goalkeeper. ‘Then I have the best chance that it will hit target. Sometimes it still flies into the stands. Your foot has no control over it. It’s more gambling than your insides. But the advantage: it does not have to be exactly in the intersection. If the keeper already steps wrong, he can go in. ‘

Size 43

Tannane is more than good at kicking, but it is an essential part of his game. He also takes corner kicks, shoots a lot in open play and launches teammates with subtle or tight passes. Talent for a good kick is indispensable, but Tannane would never have gotten this far if he hadn’t been practicing day in and day out as a child on the IJzeren Doel square in Amsterdam East, he suspects. ‘I was often with another guy and then we went’ goals’. You are both in front of a target, one time one shoots from a distance and the other hits, and then you turn it around. That’s how you pedal super often. ‘

He cannot remember receiving tips from anyone. ‘I wanted to shoot that ball into the intersection so badly that I learned how to do it myself. From what I saw on TV at the time, I can only remember a free kick, that line from Van Persie against Ivory Coast (at the 2006 World Cup, ed.) In the corner of the keeper. ‘

He also does not see which goalkeeper is on target. ‘The smaller ones are often super athletic so they also get to the corner. I rely on my own technology. ‘

The type of shoe has little influence, Tannane thinks. ‘In the youth at Ajax I kicked very well on old Adidas Copa Mundials that I borrowed from my trainer. But you have to run on the latest models from your shoe sponsor. Well, I don’t give a damn about the shoe. Smaller feet, I have a size 43, are an advantage, I think. ‘

PSV has been training since the summer with a special wall of moving dolls, the Freekickpro. Each doll can be adjusted to a specific height. Tannins do not need it. “In the game, things are moving differently.”

Tannane doesn’t seem to bother to pedal. His build is somewhat like former Vitesse player Theo Janssen, also an easy pedal with wide hips. Research shows that it is not muscle strength that determines shooting speed, but coordination. Tannane agrees: ‘I do strength training, but not specifically for my kick. It is all technology. I keep track of that. After the training I often kick on goal for half an hour. ‘

He is happy to be seen. ‘If players from top clubs make a free kick, it can last all week, with players from smaller clubs usually only a minute. I think that’s a shame. ‘

Tannane’s free kick has never been discussed by the clubs he served. ‘Trainers know your reputation and otherwise they see it on the first training. I have a new trainer this season and I shot three free kicks in the preparation. Then that is ready if it was not ready yet. ‘

He is not upset when a few free kicks go wrong. ‘When I’m not in the game, I sometimes let someone else try. It is a team sport. But the following week I just get behind it. I will never forget pedaling, it is like cycling for me. ‘

Once he got into a verbal fight with a teammate. ‘At Heerenveen, I was only seventeen. El Akchaoui wanted to take it. I said, “friend, I’m at the top of the list.” I ended up running away. ‘

At the Moroccan team, he has to take place behind Hakim Ziyech. ‘Moroccan players often have a good free kick. Labyad is also good at it. We learn that on the square. It makes sense that you are number 1 with such a staircase as Hakim has. But… I am not done with it. I use every training to show how well I can pedal. ‘

Trend or coincidence?

This premier division season only one free kick flew directly into the goal on 43 attempts (2.3 percent). That is surprisingly little. Possibly it is because it is no longer allowed to post one or more teammates in or right next to the wall, which could prevent the goalkeeper from seeing the ball. But last season, when the rule did not yet exist, was also a moderate free kick year with 5.5 percent conversion, almost one and a half percent below the average. Another striking fact: the number of free kicks shot directly at target has dropped drastically from 541 in 2010-2011 to 364 in 2018-2019. This downward trend can also be observed in the top leagues.

Van Hooijdonk’s feet point outwards

Pierre van Hooijdonk was one of the very best free kick takers, he mainly used his inside right. ‘I have shoe size 46, that’s too big to use my instep alone, so you don’t hit the ball in the heart. With the inside of the foot you also have more control, my free kicks never flew eight meters. My foot did the work, the ball mainly does that on those distant kicks. ‘

All that kicking from an early age in his grandparents’ cafe (‘two brooms were the goal’) has left its mark. When Van Hooijdonk (50) is lying on his back, his feet point out. ‘Right more than left. But I can still hit balls without warming up. And then they still go in regularly. ‘

CV Oussama Tannane

Heerenveen 2012-2013

Heracles 2013-2016

Saint-Etienne 2016-2019

Las Palmas (rented) 2017

FC Utrecht (rented) 2018-2019

Vitesse2019-present

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