The 3-5-2 Formation: Its Uses, Strengths, and Weaknesses | Jobs In Football

    Football formations have evolved a lot over the years. During the first half of the 20th century, the dominant system was an attack-minded w-m formation, which is extremely rare today. in the decade before the millennium, the form used by most British teams was the 4-4-2 formation. things are constantly evolving, and one of the most important developments in football in the last decade is the rise of teams playing with 3 behind. but what exactly does that mean? In this article, that’s the question we’ll answer, as we focus on the 3-5-2 formation and explore its main strengths, weaknesses, and uses.

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    Reading: 3-5-2 formation numbers

    How do you play a 3-5-2?

    Argentine coach Carlos Bilardo is credited with being the inventor of the 3-5-2 system. Coach of the famous 1986 World Cup winning Argentine team, he developed this shape as a way to create space up front for star player Diego Maradona to exploit. at the same time, the 3-5-2 is designed to offer a high degree of defensive stability. Argentina’s win highlighted just how effective it can be, and the fact that it sticks around today further supports it. but how does the 3-5-2 form work in practice?

    This formation begins with a modern triple. these 3 central defenders are supported by two full-backs (one lwb and one rwb) who can drop back and become part of a five-back if a team is defending deep. usually, however, these full-backs will be the widest part of a 5-man midfield, with 3 central midfielders between them. these central midfielders can be arranged in different ways; sometimes it will be a flat 3, while at other times, there will be a central defensive midfielder sitting deeper, and elsewhere there could be 2 cdms protecting the centre-backs, and a cam offering a more creative outlet in front of them. finally, a 3-5-2 uses an attacking partnership. these two forwards are capable of pushing the opposition back four and winning the ball in advanced areas while seamlessly connecting with the flowing midfield behind them.

    See also: Paralympics History – Evolution of the Paralympic Movement

    Reading: 3-5-2 formation numbers

    what are the strengths of the 3-5-2 formation?

    We just hinted at one of the critical strengths of the 3-5-2 formation, which is the flexibility it offers. this is achieved in part through full-backs, who are absolutely crucial and can easily switch between defence, midfield and attack. primarily his role tends to be offensive, and the breadth of attack provided by the likes of chelsea rwb reece james can be incredibly difficult to stop. and unlike the 4-3-3 formation, the wing attack doesn’t leave much room to exploit in the defensive areas, because there are 3 central defenders providing additional cover.

    3-5-2 can also be great for dominating possession because it allows teams to create overloads in a variety of areas of the field. with its 3 central midfielders, this form is ideal for dominating the midfield battle, and also creates opportunities for moments of true flow in these places. for example, it is not uncommon to see a central defender push into midfield with the ball, leaving the opposition outnumbered and creating confusion when it comes to who should guard who. Sheffield United, newly promoted to the Premier League, used this technique of overlapping central defenders to great effect during the 2019-20 season, finishing ninth.

    This is one of many variations on the construction game that the 3-5-2 formation allows. it is possible for the back 3 to advance the ball down midfield or out to the wings, where the full-backs will tend to hug the touchline with plenty of space. further up the pitch the two forwards provide a lot of extra flexibility, they can either drop back into midfield and link up with the creators, or if faced with two central defenders they can cause utter chaos by pressing them in tight 1v1 situations. . .

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    Reading: 3-5-2 formation numbers

    what are the weaknesses of the 3-5-2 formation?

    It may seem that this system is infallible; and it is true that when played well and trained to perfection, the 3-5-2 form ticks all the boxes. however, there are some weaknesses worth mentioning. the midfield, for example, risks becoming congested, especially if the full-backs become more compact. and if this heavy midfield is breached by the opposition, teams can be susceptible to counterattacks, with the back 3 ending up in 1v1 defensive situations.

    Another potential weakness is that if your team’s wingers bomb forward a lot and focus most of their energy on attacking, they can leave gaps behind them and it can be difficult to defend wide positions. this is essentially due to the fact that this system relies heavily on well-trained and disciplined players who have a very solid understanding of what their roles are. it’s an advanced build that requires serious training, which explains why it’s most common at the elite level of the game. Let’s look at some of the best examples of 3-5-2 in practice.

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    Reading: 3-5-2 formation numbers

    Which clubs and coaches use a 3-5-2?

    Possibly the most famous and successful modern proponent of this system is Antonio Conte. Conte, current manager of Tottenham Hotspur, has used this form in most of the teams he has coached, most notably Juventus, Chelsea and Inter Milan (with all of whom he won a national title). conte constantly uses fast and tough full-backs like achraf hakimi, marcus alonso, victor moses and kwadwo asamoah, often molding them to better fit his favorite formation. The ability of these full-backs to move up and down the pitch with speed is crucial to his role within their teams.

    thomas tuchel is another coach with a reputation for using the 3-5-2 system at the highest level. this is his preferred form at chelsea, along with a 3-4-3, but he is also known to have implemented this system at psg and borussia dortmund. His interpretation of 3-5-2 form at PSG used Neymar as a central attacking midfielder, or No. 10, beating the more defensive midfielders Marquinhos and Rabiot to support the team’s Front 2. This system was particularly effective in the Champions League, where Tuchel’s back three provided defensive solidity and created space for his forwards to flourish. Check out this video for a more detailed explanation of Tuchel’s approach to 3-5-2 at PSG.

    See also: Paralympics History – Evolution of the Paralympic Movement

    Reading: 3-5-2 formation numbers

    how to prevent 3-5-2 from being effective

    It can be difficult to defend against a well-trained and highly organized 3-5-2 system. but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. there are different ways to approach a game where you know the opposition is likely to use this formation. In this section of the article, we’ll walk you through some useful methods.

    The 4-2-3-1 formation can give your team a competitive advantage and help you exploit the 3-5-2 zonal defense system. this is achieved by moving the opponent from side to side using high quality passes and movement. a key part of tackling the 3-5-2 comes down to matching the positional fluidity it’s based on and using that flexibility to create overloads in attacking areas.

    And on the subject of matchmaking, it’s worth mentioning that one of the most popular approaches to lining up against a 3-5-2 is to simply structure your team the same way. mirroring the formation can allow you to fill out the same areas of the field and have a spare man in the back; however, man-for-man matching can cause problems if the team you’re playing against has higher individual quality, meaning they can exploit weaker individuals in 1v1 battles.

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    A potentially effective way to cause problems against a 3-5-2 formation is to try to bypass midfield (where the space is largely occupied by the opposition’s heavy midfield) by playing long balls. Hitting the ball into forward areas with speed and precision can put the back 3 under pressure in dangerous positions, and this is particularly effective if you have deeper players (wing-backs, for example) who are adept at crossing the ball. outside attackers can help create the space for your full-backs to make these crosses by staying high and open.

    However, even this tactic, which can sometimes be very successful, has the disadvantage of losing possession of the ball for long periods. this ties into the broader difficulty of going up against a well-disciplined 3-5-2 form, which you will now realize can be tough. at the same time, if he can exploit the zonal defense system of a 3-5-2 and move the ball away from the heavy midfield he relies on, it’s possible to negate his impact.

    Hopefully, you are now well versed in the key uses, strengths, and weaknesses of the increasingly popular 3-5-2 formation. the opportunities it provides to dominate the ball, create chances while staying solid at the back make it one of the most powerful formations you can use. it requires serious training, but the tactical and positional versatility it provides should not be underestimated. For more guidance on the importance of soccer formation, check out our guide to 9 of the best formations explained or learn more about the different soccer positions.

    frequently asked questions about the 3-5-2 formation

    who invented the 3-5-2 formation?

    Carlos Bilardo is recognized as the pioneer of the 3-5-2 system in elite soccer, designed to give Diego Maradona as much freedom as possible while retaining a strong, compact defense.

    See also: Paralympics History – Evolution of the Paralympic Movement

    Reading: 3-5-2 formation numbers

    Is 3-5-2 the best formation?

    As always, it depends on the strengths and weaknesses of the team (as well as the opponents), but 3-5-2 is widely recognized as one of the best formations for defensive solidity.

    See also: Paralympics History – Evolution of the Paralympic Movement

    Reading: 3-5-2 formation numbers

    Is 3-5-2 a defensive formation?

    Generally speaking, the 3-5-2 is considered a defensive formation, with three central defenders and three central midfielders giving a solid and compact core to the team. however, with athletic and effective full-backs, this can quickly turn into a powerful attack.

    See also: Paralympics History – Evolution of the Paralympic Movement

    Reading: 3-5-2 formation numbers

    fred garratt-stanley is a freelance writer and long-suffering Norwich City fan with experience reporting on football for various titles. He also has a background in music and cultural journalism, with firms at NME, The Quietus, Resident Advisor and more. Currently, he works as a content writer for a variety of online health and fitness publications.

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