The Crocodile Move: Marcelo Brozovic block which revolutionises the art of defending free-kicks.


Marcelo Brozovic Revolutionizes Defending to Block Suarez Free-Kick with what he called:”The Crocodile Move”.


It’s mostly common these days for a player to lay on the ground when attempting to defend a free-kick. This has now become habitual practice in football, and if you put your ear to the ground, you would hear fans yelling ‘go down’ as the specialist prepares to take his kick.


However, this wasn’t the case in the past, as we have seen numerous examples where a free-kick taker rolls the ball under the wall and makes the opposition look embarrassingly stupid.



As Heraclitus, a Greek philosopher, said: “change is the only constant in life.” The set-piece, which for so long met with a certain knowing stiffness -– bend over the wall — has now evolved into an increasingly intricate, increasingly surreal game of fanfaronade and grandiloquence; with the latest is a player putting his body on the line in order to thwart a potential trick shot as their teammates in the wall jump when the dead ball is hit.


The History of Brozovic Crocodile move.



“The crocodile move”, as Brozovic dubbed it, gained acceptance in Europe in 2018, when Inter Milan midfielder Marcelo Brozovic went viral by lying prone in front of a worldwide audience during a 2018-19 Champions League group-stage match against Barcelona.


When Luis Suarez stood over a dangerous dead ball just outside the Inter area and with everyone expecting the Uruguyuan to try and go up and over the wall, Both Suarez and Brozovic had other ideas.


The wall predictably jumped and Suarez, the sneaky old fox that he is, tried to whip it underneath.


But he hadn’t expected Brozovic to have put in a sliding block underneath the wall to protect the sly shot.



Marcelo Brozovic – you are a hero!


Everyone was thunderstruck at the sight of legendary defending that just occurred on the pitch, even Lionel Messi, who was watching from the stand, gave the Croatian his seal of assent with a wry smile, not to mention the widespread praises on social media.





However, classically as a concept, the practice of forming extra barricade was traceable to Brazil, where desperate defenders had to improvise a way to counteract set-piece specialists like Ronaldinho, who had a penchant for hitting free kicks below the wall to catch goalkeepers off guard.



Upon conquering Europe, the two-time Ballon D’or winners returned to his homeland with Flamengo. In 2011 Brazillan Championship match against Santos – a thrilling 5-4 win over a team featuring emerging superstar Neymar – he clipped another free kick underneath the five men in the wall as they leapt in unison.


Apart from the former Ballon D’or winners, several players in the Elite Brazilian leagues have gained a reputation for choosing to go beneath, rather than over the wall at dead-ball situations. This includes the likes of Flavio, Valdivia and the rest.


Speaking after the cup game between Palmeiras and Figueirense in 2014, Figueirense midfielder Ricardinho addressed the reporters after taking it upon himself to bolster the five-man wall by lying down behind it. He said:




“I tend to study a lot before matches and I saw that before the game against Palmeiras, Valdivia tried to make the ball go under the wall.” Ricardinho told ESPN. “I decided during the game and I didn’t tell anyone. I thought the odds that Valdivia would try to pull it off were high. I had seen someone take a knee before, but never lie down.”


The wind of which later blew to Europe via two Brazilians who ply their trade across the Atlantic: Marcelo and Philippe Coutinho.


During a World Cup qualifier against Argentina in November 2016, Real Madrid left-back Marcelo kneeled behind the wall to defend a Messi free kick in anticipation of a fake-out attempt from the forward.


Dani Alves kneels down in order to prevent Messi from hitting a shot underneath the jumping Brazilian wall.


While it might no be a full horizontal sleeper block; it was the first example of the concept making the leap from Brazilian domestic football to the wider international scene.


Coutinho, who played alongside Marcelo for Brazil that day, deployed the same defence technique just three months later during Liverpool’s Premier League game against Tottenham, when he knelt behind his own wall at Anfield, purposefully out of view from Christian Eriksen as the Spurs midfielder prepared his strike.


Juan Mata (May 24, 2017)


The technique had its first appearance in Europe when Juan Mata stooped on the ground while facing a free-kick during the 2017 Europa League final against Ajax.


But, it was none other than Brozovic who championed this art of defending free-kicks, and it’s christened by the author of the move himself as ‘Crocodile Move’.



while he’s certainly not the originator of the ploy, but the fact that he provided a blueprint for how it can work so effectively for everyone to see undoubtedly played a huge role in it taking over the sport



Today, this particular technique has spread round the world, which Messi himself actually pulled off once for Paris Saint-Germain.


Marcelo Brozovic – you are a hero!