3-5-2 Formation

The 3-5-2 formation is a popular formation set in football that is used by many teams around the world. This formation is known for its balance between defense and attack, and it can be effective against a wide range of opponents. The basic structure of the 3-5-2 formation is as follows:

  • 3 Defenders (CBs): Three central defenders near in defensive line.
  • 5 Midfielders (LM, CDM, CM, CDM, RM): A central midfield trio, with two wide midfielders who are responsible for supporting both the attack and defense.
  • 2 Forwards (CF, ST): Usually, a combination of a central striker (CF) and a second forward (ST) who can play as a second striker, attacking midfielder or winger.


Strong Central Midfield

With three central midfielders, the 3-5-2 formation provides a solid foundation in the center of the pitch. This can make it difficult for opponents to control the midfield, and it allows the team to dominate possession and create scoring opportunities.

Wide Attacking Options

The two wide midfielders in the 3-5-2 formation provide attacking width and can create space for the forwards to operate in. This can create opportunities for crosses and shots from wide angles, which can be difficult for the opposition defense to deal with.


The 3-5-2 formation can be adapted to suit a range of playing styles and tactical situations. It can be used to dominate possession, counter-attack or play a more direct style.

Strong Pressing

This formation can be effective in pressing the opposition high up the pitch, with the forwards and midfielders able to apply pressure on the opposition.

Defensive stability

The three central defenders in the 3-5-2 formation provide a strong defensive line, with the wider defenders able to push forward to support the midfield when needed. This can make it hard for opponents to break down the defense and create scoring opportunities.


Vulnerable Flanks

The 3-5-2 formation can be vulnerable to attacks down the side of the field, particularly if the wider midfielders push forward to support the attack. This can leave the defense exposed and create opportunities for the opposition to cross the ball into the box.

Less Creativity

While the central midfield trio provides defensive stability, it can also limit the team's creativity in the attacking third. It would be more difficult to create clear-cut chances and score goals engaging this formation.

Heavy reliance on forwards

The success of the 3-5-2 often depends on the performance of the forward players. If the forwards are marked out of the game or unable to perform to their usual standards, the team may struggle to create goal opportunities and break down the opposition defense.

Tactical flexibility

The 3-5-2 formation requires a high degree of tactical understanding and discipline from the players. It can be challenging to execute effectively, particularly against well-organized opposition defenses. Teams using this formation need to have the flexibility to change their tactics based on the match's progress.

How to Counter 3-5-2 Formation?

To counter the 3-5-2, there are several strategies and tactics that can be used. Here are some of the most effective ways to disrupt the formation and take advantage of its weaknesses:

Attack the flanks: 3-5-2 is vulnerable to attacks down the flanks, especially when the wing-backs push forward to support the midfield. Therefore, teams can use their wingers or full-backs (LB, RB, LWB, RWB) )to attack the space behind the wing-backs and create overloads on the flanks. This can create opportunities for crosses into the box and scoring chances.

Exploit the gaps between midfield and defense: This formation can leave gaps between the central midfielders and defenders, which can be exploited by attacking players. Teams can use their attacking midfielders or forwards to run into these spaces and create opportunities for shots or passes into the box.

Use a narrow attacking formation: The 3-5-2 formation is vulnerable to narrow attacking formations that focus on attacking down the center of the pitch. Teams can use a 4-4-2 or 4-2-3-1 formation, for example, to overload the central areas of the pitch and create scoring opportunities.

Press high up the pitch: The 3-5-2 formation can be vulnerable to high-pressing tactics, especially if the midfielders and defenders are forced to play long balls. Teams can press high up the pitch to force the opposition into making mistakes or playing long balls, which can be easier to defend against.

Target the central defenders: The 3-5-2 formation relies heavily on the central defenders, who are responsible for controlling the defensive line and marking the opposition forwards.