Today’s soccer places equal importance on team structure and tactics as it does on any one player. When compared to its rivals, a club often has a greater advantage if it possesses more attacking danger, more possession, and more defensive stability.
Although some formations are better suited for counterattacks and others are frequently an all-out hail mary in order to get an equalizer, teams still need to establish a balance between offensive and defense in order to be successful. However, there are times when the best-attacking formation is needed in games where losing is not an option.
In this article, we will take a look at what is one of the best soccer formations for attacking. It is also important to note that specific players should be suited for specific positions in order to bring out the best of their abilities on the pitch with this formation and we will discuss that here.
The 3-5-2 formation is a lineup that consists of 3 defenders, 5 midfielders, and 2 forwards. If played correctly this formation provides a lot of overload in the midfield. In other words, the 3-5-2 formation allows your team to control the midfield due to an emphasis on players in the midfield. There is a lot to unpack with this formation but we will explain all it has to offer.
At first glance, the 3-5-2 formation looks like it doesn’t have enough forwards for the best-attacking formation due to only having 2 forwards but we will take a look at the pros of this decision later in this article.
3-5-2 Offensive Possession
The 3-5-2 formation focuses on having the midfield with 5 versatile midfielders. There are also 3 center backs (left center back, central center back, and right center back), and 2 forwards. With 5 midfielders, it allows the link between the defense and top line easier due to the overload of possession.
As you can see in the image above, the formation allows multiple link-up passes by creating triangle-like spaces. This is the reason why having 5 midfielders with 2 forwards is more effective for a fully offensive formation. The 5 midfielders focus on opening up the field and looking to break the defensive line with possession until the right moment opens up.
If your team is looking for goals, the team needs to control the field first and this can be effectively done by overloading the midfield with 5 midfielders.
3-5-2 Defensive Possession
The benefit of the 3-5-2 formation when defending is that although there are only 3 defenders, this formation can control the tempo of the game. For example, to avoid the other team from continuously attacking and trying to exploit the use of 3 defenders, your team must control the game tempo by taking advantage of the 5 midfielders.
In other words, if your team can control the game tempo, it will stop the opposing team from continuously gaining momentum and taking control of the game. The team who controls the game tempo is the team who dictates who becomes the most offensive team. It is important for your team using this formation to control possession throughout the game.
3-5-2 Player Characteristics
This formation due to the midfielders can be most effective with certain player characteristics if used properly. We will use the player numbers in the image below to refer to the player type needed for this formation.
- Player #4 – should be able to read the game defensively such as knowing the proper moments when to step into an attacker or when to cut passes. This is important because this player will act as the last line of defense and any crucial mistake will cause a break-away.
- Players #3 and #5 – should have the speed to defend against any counterattacks that might occur from losing possession higher up in the field.
- Players #7 and #14 – should be able to hold possession and have the vision to find the forward when space opens up. These players should also not be players who tend to drift away from a position because it will open space for the opposing team if possession is lost.
- Player #10 – should be the vision of the team. This player should be technically gifted as they are the central midfielder and will provide passing options as the team moves possession.
- Players #6 and #8 – should be best suited for box-to-box players. These players create the central link to build up the play for the offense and provide an outlet for the defense.
- Players #11 and #9 – should be players that make runs behind the defenders and not just stay static in position. The reason for this is because the midfielders are constantly looking for breaks in the defensive line and if the forwards continually make runs, it will open up the defensive line.
The key piece to this formation is to have midfielders who can hold possession and stay patient while waiting for space to open. They are the ones who will control the tempo of the game and try to exploit the defense.