Topor-Stanley: Set-pieces to skilful opponents

Western Sydney were tough to crack from set-pieces last campaign and central defender Nikolai Topor-Stanley talks us through the keys to their success

Defending set-pieces

“Developing an understanding with your backline and communication is the key. Knowing your jobs early, having a plan in your head already helps.

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“Strong communication really helps develop a pre-understanding of what you need to do. And then it’s a matter of matching up defenders and strikers and physically dominating your area or the man your marking.”

Taking on a strong aerial opponent

“It’s important to take away their space,their run-up or their balance, so they can’t get a clean strike on the ball.That comes with experience, knowing when and how to do that within the laws ofthe game.”

Taking on a fast opponent

“Putting yourself in the best situation where you give yourself the best chance is the key. You don’t want to beisolated one on one.

“You want to use the team structure to put that opponent into a situation where he can’t use his strengths. It’s important to have a plan and that goes back to knowing who your opponent is.”

Taking on a skillful opponent

“I’ve been told the golden rule is to never dive in or commit yourself until you think you can definitely win the ball. Staying on your feet as a defender is very important. You’ll notice most of the good defenders out there, they don’t seem to make tackles, they force their opponents into a mistake themselves.”

Do your research, even after kick-off

“It’s about understanding what your opponent’s strengths and weaknesses and then being able to take advantage of that situation. If you can do that, you can come out the victor.”

Get aggressive when drifting forward

“I’m well overdue for a goal from a set-piece! It’s about being aggressive, judging the flight of the ball properly and really attacking it so you can get a good connection.”

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