Sunday, 14 Jul 2024

The Art of Set Pieces: Unveiling the Best Players in the World

highest free kick conversion rate

With the arrival of Philippe Coutinho at Bayern Munich, the Bundesliga champions have added a big star and perhaps a world-class player. Not only is Coutinho a wizard from outside the box, especially from dead ball situations, but he also brings a unique set of skills to the team. However, how does he compare to other free-kick takers? Is he the best in the Bundesliga? And who are the best players in Germany and the world when it comes to penalty kicks?

In this article, we will explore the art of set pieces, specifically free kicks and penalties. Using data from Sofa Score, we will analyze the number of attempts, goals scored, and conversion rates to determine the leading specialists in these areas. While the analysis isn’t overly complex, it provides valuable insights into the performances of these players. So, let’s dive in and find out who the best set piece specialists in the world are!

Free Kicks

Set piece quality can be measured by both volume and efficiency – who scores the most and who converts the highest percentage of their attempts. Figure 1 and 2 display the total number of free kicks attempted and scored among the top 20 players in the subset.

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Figure 1

Figure 2

The standout player in both figures is Lionel Messi, with an incredible 164 free kick attempts, almost 100 more than his closest competitor, Dani Parejo. Messi’s numbers are truly exceptional, highlighting his dominance in this aspect of the game. However, when it comes to goals scored, the average among top free-kick takers is only 4 goals per season.

In terms of conversion rates, Philippe Coutinho and Angel Di Maria lead the list, both scoring 26.3% of their free kicks. Interestingly, the players with the highest conversion rates have taken fewer attempts on goal, suggesting that some of the highest rates may be inflated due to small sample sizes. Nonetheless, Coutinho, Di Maria, and James Rodriguez have proven themselves to be excellent free kick specialists.


Turning our attention to penalties, Ronaldo and Messi top the charts in terms of attempts and goals scored since 2015. Ronaldo leads with 27 penalties taken and 20 goals, while Messi is close behind with 23 penalties taken and 15 goals.

![Figure 4](×1000/1200×0/filters:focal(0x0:1400×1000):no_upscale()/

Figure 5

While Ronaldo and Messi are renowned for their overall brilliance, their conversion rates from penalties are not as impressive. Fabinho holds a perfect record of 100% conversion, and even the lowest conversion rate in this list is just above 80%. Ronaldo stands at 75%, while Messi’s rate is 65%.

It’s important to consider both volume and efficiency when assessing penalty takers. For instance, Yaya Toure may have a perfect record of 100% from 11 penalties in the Premier League, but Matt Le Tissier’s 96.2% conversion rate from 25 out of 26 penalties shows a greater level of efficiency. Ultimately, both volume and efficiency contribute to a player’s effectiveness from the penalty spot.

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BVB’s Set Piece Specialists

Unfortunately, none of Borussia Dortmund’s players made the cut in the top rankings for free kicks and penalties. However, it’s worth mentioning that Paco Alcacer has a remarkable 50% conversion rate from free kicks over one season. Marco Reus and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang have had numerous attempts but lack the same level of success.

In terms of penalties, Reus and Aubameyang have decent records, although they don’t reach the levels of the top performers. Dortmund’s players show above-average conversion rates, but their volume remains relatively small, requiring them to do more to solidify themselves as set piece specialists.


While there is no definitive leader in free kicks or penalties, several players have proven themselves to be exceptional in specific areas. Bayern Munich boasts a strong set piece presence with Coutinho, David Alaba, and Robert Lewandowski among their ranks. On the other hand, Borussia Dortmund’s players still have some work to do to match the performances of their counterparts. But, at least they don’t have to deal with the challenges of having both Messi and Neymar on the same team.

In conclusion, set pieces are an art form in football, and these players have mastered it to varying degrees. Whether it’s the efficiency of conversion rates or the volume of attempts, each player brings their unique style to set pieces. So, the next time you watch a match, keep an eye on these specialists and appreciate the finesse and skill they bring to the pitch.


Q: Who holds the highest conversion rate from free kicks?
A: Philippe Coutinho and Angel Di Maria lead the list with a conversion rate of 26.3%.

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Q: Which players have taken the most penalties since 2015?
A: Cristiano Ronaldo tops the charts with 27 penalties taken, followed closely by Lionel Messi with 23.

Q: Who has the highest conversion rate from penalties?
A: Fabinho maintains a perfect record of 100% conversion rate from penalties.

Q: Did any Borussia Dortmund players make the top rankings?
A: Unfortunately, none of Dortmund’s players made the cut in the top rankings for both free kicks and penalties.


Set pieces in football can often be the deciding factor in matches, and players who excel in these areas deserve recognition. From the elegance of Lionel Messi’s free kicks to Cristiano Ronaldo’s power in penalty kicks, each player brings their unique style to the game. So, the next time you watch a match, pay close attention to the artistry of these set piece specialists. To keep up with all the latest football statistics and player ratings, visit Pesstatsdatabase and stay ahead of the game!