Tactical Drills

Tactics: How to play in 3-5-2? [COMPLETE GUIDE]

3-5-2 tactic

The 3-5-2 is a playing system which is based on 3 defenders, 5 midfielders and 2 attackers. It brings many advantages but also has some weak points. When to use a 3-5-2 tactic? Here is our complete guide to this tactical training.

The 3-5-2, used in certain professional clubs, is not very common in amateur football . It is certainly more complex to apply than the 4-4-2 diamond or the 4-3-3 , but it nevertheless has many advantages which could suit the players available within your squad.

 What training exercises should I use to work on the 3-5-2? What are the strengths and weaknesses of a 3-5-2 system? Overview.

  1. What is 3-5-2 in football?
  2. Tactics: how to play well in 3-5-2?
  3. What are the strong points of the 3-5-2 pattern?
  4. The 3-5-2 in football: the weak points
  5. What training exercises should I use to work on the 3-5-2?
  6. Conclusion on 3-5-2 training

What is 3-5-2 in football?

The 3-5-2 can have different looks, but here we will focus on its most common form, with 3 midfielders who form a triangle in the center. The 3-5-2 is then broken down into 4 lines, with the central attacking midfielder who will play between the line of defensive midfielders and that of the attackers.

The different lines of 3-5-2

The different lines of 3-5-2

This 3-5-2 pattern has been used by many professional teams over the years, the most iconic being surely Juventus Turin . We can take as an example the Antonio Conte years with very talented central defenders such as Giorgio Chiellini or Bonucci. Don’t worry, you can use this type of tactical scheme very well without necessarily having central defenders of this caliber.

But then how to evolve well in 3-5-2 and what are the advantages and disadvantages of this formation? What type of offensive animation and what defensive placement in 3-5-2 in football? We will try to enlighten you on these different points. Let’s go! (as our English friends would say).

Tactics: how to play well in 3-5-2?

What is the midfield layout in 3-5-2?

When you play in a 3-5-2, you will have to choose which layout you want to apply to your midfielders. There are many choices, but here are the main options :

  1. Play with a 2-2-1 midfielder : 2 defensive midfielders, 2 wing players and finally a central attacking midfielder.
  2. Play with a 1-2-2 midfielder : 1 defensive midfielder, 2 central midfielders and finally 2 side midfielders on the same line.
  3. Play with midfielder in 3-2 : 3 central midfielders on the same line and 2 wing midfielders higher up on the pitch (rather risky approach given the spaces this leaves behind the backs of the full-backs).

3-5-2 tactics

Center Midfield in 2-2-1 in a 3-5-2 formation

3-5-2 tactics

Midfield in 1-2-2 in a 3-5-2 formation

3-5-2 tactics

and Midfield in 3-2 in a 3-5-2 formation

3-5-2 tactical scheme and offensive animation

What offensive animation applied in 3-5-2? To answer this question, you must understand that the 3-5-2 will emphasize density in midfield . It is the midfielders who will often bring the excess during the offensive phases. It goes without saying that they will have to be comfortable on a technical level .

The 2 attackers must obviously be complementary. You can place them on the same line or decide to have a more withdrawn attacker who can possibly offer solutions lower down the pitch and “circle around” your advanced attacker.

Defensive placement in 3-5-2

As you have understood, in a 3-5-2, the role of your 3 central defenders will be essential. Since the options for lateral raises are limited, you will have to emphasize the quality of the raises . This is where your central defensive midfielder will be important. He will have to constantly propose behind the line of opposing attackers.

Request in space on a 3-5-2 formation

Request in space on a 3-5-2 formation

From a defensive point of view, the density in midfield allowed by the 3-5-2 formation will also make it possible to be quite effective when pressing . Thanks to your 3 central midfielders, you will be able to bring them out on the opposing full-backs which will considerably support the pressing of the 2 attackers.

You will also be able to practice this more particularly during counter -pressing , directly when you lose the ball. Although this is not an aspect widely used by teams playing a 3-5-2, you could work on it with your players and use it to your advantage.

What are the strong points of the 3-5-2 pattern?

The first strong point of a 3-5-2 playing system is central defensive solidity . This is a point that we have raised but it is important to underline it. You will set up 3 central defenders , so naturally, this area will be better protected. Be careful though, what you gain here, you lose on other areas of the field. We’ll come back to this just below when we discuss the weak points of the 3-5-2 in football.

The second strong point of a 3-5-2 playing system is the density in the midfield . Whether you opt for 1-2-2, 3-2 or even 2-2-1 midfielders (see above), you will simply create numerical superiority against the opposing midfielder. This superiority will obviously have to be exploited correctly .

The final advantage of a 3-5-2 tactic is the ability to quickly switch to 5-3-2 or 5-4-1 with 5 defenders . By asking your full-backs to go down a notch, you will densify your defensive line and you can do this by giving a simple instruction without necessarily jostling your players. Be careful though, this type of change must be temporary otherwise it risks unbalancing your team and consider working on it during training sessions with complete exercises.

The 3-5-2 in football: the weak points

When you set up a 3-5-2 tactical pattern , you will inevitably ask more from your side players . They will have to contribute offensively, of course, but also be vigilant from a defensive point of view. This pressure that will be inflicted on them is one of the disadvantages of the 3-5-2 formation. We advise you to have strong side players from a physical point of view in order to be able to absorb a large volume of runs.

Finally, the other weak point of the 3-5-2 playing system is the risk it creates when you face a team that plays in a 4-3-3 formation . Since they will have 3 offensive players, they will weigh on your defense with 3 and this risks creating significant gaps and spaces behind your side players. To avoid.

What training exercises should I use to work on the 3-5-2?

The first exercise that we offer you is a technical workshop on taking information, controlling and passing in groups of 3. It is a very simple exercise which allows you to work on taking information using a set of colors.

Information gathering, control and passes in groups of 3 in 3-5-2 tactics

Information gathering, control and passes in groups of 3

Demarcate 2 lines of cups with a distance of approximately 15m between each line. The cups will be spaced approximately 5m apart. Then define working groups of 3 players and place a player at each cup, then a player in the center. Finally, give 2 cups of (different) colors to each player located at the ends.

The technical workshop will take place as follows:

  1. The 1st player (A) makes a short pass to the player in the center (B). During this time, the 3rd player (C) will raise one of the 2 colored cups in his hand into the air.
  2. B will have to take the information (very important for your midfielders in a 3-5-2 system) and announce the color out loud before controlling, turning around and making a pass to the 3rd player.
  3. The exercise continues in the same way on the opposite side.

Go to the complete exercise sheet for more details on the possible developments and variations.

The second training exercise that we offer you is a 3vs3 exercise with 4 supports and a central player . It will allow you to work on combinations in small spaces.

3vs3 with 4 supports and a central player in 3-5-2 tactics

3vs3 with 4 supports and a central player

Define a 20x20m square using 4 cups then form 2 teams of 3 players and a team of 4 players. Ask the players to spread out on each side then place one player from each team in the center of the area. Finally place the 4 players from the last team at each corner of the playing area.

Here are the details of this exercise which will allow you to work indirectly on the 3-5-2 tactical diagram :

  1. Teams of 3 players must remain in possession of the ball as long as possible but only score points when the central player touches the ball.
  2. The corner players serve as support for the team in the offensive position.
  3. Limited to one touch of the ball: the supports as well as the corner players.

Once again, head to the complete sheet if you want to know more about the possible variations of this exercise applicable to 3-5-2 work.

Conclusion on 3-5-2 training

The 3-5-2 tactical scheme was used (and is still used) in certain professional clubs and as you have seen, it requires taking into consideration certain important notions in order not to go off track and create too much space for the opponent.

Well mastered, it can be very effective but you will need to have the right staff. Remember that whatever formation you wish to use, it must fit into your game plan and must be in accordance with the qualities and weaknesses of your squad. Use these tips and enjoy sharing your game plan and your vision of football with your players. Happy coaching! 🙂