Hit the ball with more precision? Free-kick goals are becoming a rarity in Brazilian football and average falls in Brasileirão

See which Brazilian players have scored the most goals in this style

The goalkeepers of the 20 teams that dispute the Brazilian Championship can be a little calmer when their defenders commit a foul at the entrance to the area. Just look at the numbers: if at the beginning of the decade we had more than 40 free goals scored per year, in 2020 there were only 17. In the 2021 Brasileirão, with a few rounds still to go, we only have 14 free-kick goals.

The free kick in direct kicks is adored by fans, who tend to idolize the great kickers. The move is so famous in the field that video game players – like FIFA and PES – often train hard to repeat the great goals of real life in the virtual world.

In the past, free kicks were much more common, perhaps because of the greater dedication of athletes to improve in this regard or as a result of the heavier training of current coaches who, by prioritizing other technical fundamentals, end up wearing the players out, causing them not to have time – and even disposition – to devote himself to the need for free kicks. Zico, for example, the greatest idol in Flamengo’s history, used to stay hours after normal training with his teammates, kicking the ball towards the goal to improve his free kicks.

The fact is: nowadays free kicks are getting rarer and rarer. The Brazilian team, for example, has not scored a free-kick in an official match for seven years. The last was that of defender David Luiz in the match against Colombia, valid for the 2014 World Cup. In friendlies, the time is inferior, but no less expressive: Philippe Coutinho scored against South Korea in 2019.

“Talent is scarce, and today, football players are more concerned with putting gel on their hair, putting on earrings, making a commercial and going to samba”, replied Marcelinho Carioca, another great free kick taker in the country’s history, in 2017 interview with Jovem Pan, when giving her opinion on the decrease in set-piece goals.

Check in the table below how the free kick has also been reduced in the Brazilian Championship in recent years:

Brazilian Championship season

Free-kick goals

2011 43
2012 36
2013 45
2014 25
2015 29
2016 17
2017 29
2018 27
2019 19
2020 17

In the first half of the last decade there was an average of 36 free goals per edition of the Brasileirão. In the second half, the average dropped to just 22. And in the current edition of the tournament, still in progress, there were only 14 goals.

Great free kickers in Brazilian football

Check out the list below which were the seven Brazilian players who scored the most foul goals officially registered in the history of world football:

Marcos Assunção

marcos assuncao


The midfielder played between 1995 and 2016, with prominent appearances in Santos, Betis (ESP), Roma (ITA) and Palmeiras. He scored an incredible 124 goals and is the player with the most foul goals in football history.

Juninho Pernambuco



Juninho played football between 1993 and 2013 and was known for his trivela strikes – the opposite side of the foot – which fooled goalkeepers when trying to defend their shots. He stood out for Sport, Vasco and Lyon (FRA). He had 77 free-kicks during his career.

• Pelé


Credit: FIFA.com

Ronaldinho Gaúcho



Ronaldinho also hit the ball very well, he even had the habit of kicking the ball under the barrier, which was not very common. He has scored 66 goals of this style in his career, mostly for Grêmio, Barcelona (ESP), Milan (ITA) and Atlético-MG. He played between 1998 and 2016.

Rogerio Ceni

rogerio ceni


He is famously known as the “goalkeeper-scorer”. Rogério Ceni is the player in the position of archer who scored the most goals in football history: 131. Of these, 63 were in free kicks, all for São Paulo, the club he defended between 1990 and 2015.




The greatest player in Flamengo’s history was an expert in the art of free kick goals, 62 in his career that lasted from 1971 to 1994. He played for Flamengo, Udinese (ITA) and Kashima Antlers (JAP).

Marcelinho Carioca



Marcelinho hit the ball so well that he became known as “angel’s foot”. He played football between 1988 and 2009 and is considered one of the greatest idols in Corinthians history. With 59 goals in his career, he also stood out at Flamengo and Vasco.

And in your club, is there a great free kick taker? Has he scored recently? This style of goal can be a lethal weapon against rivals, besides, of course, being very beautiful to look at. We hope that the free kicks become routine in Brazilian football again!

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