5-2-3 Formation

The 5-2-3 formation, also known as a variation of "W-W" formation, is a tactical formation used in football. This formation is designed to provide a strong attacking presence while maintaining a solid defensive structure.

The 5-2-3 formation is a variation of the 3-4-3 formation.The 5-2-3 formation is generally considered to be an attacking formation, as it features three forwards and two attacking wing-backs. However, it also provides a solid defensive structure with five defenders and two central midfielders. The formation's effectiveness depends on how it is utilized by the team and the players' individual strengths and abilities. Overall, the 5-2-3 formation can be a balanced formation that can provide both attacking and defensive capabilities.


Strong Attacking Presence

With three forwards and two attacking wing-backs, the 5-2-3 formation provides a strong attacking presence that can create scoring opportunities and put pressure on the opposition.

Solid Defensive Structure

The five defenders in the 5-2-3 formation provide a solid defensive structure that can make it difficult for the opposition to create scoring opportunities.

Control of the Midfield

The two central midfielders in the 5-2-3 formation provide a strong presence in the midfield, allowing the team to control the center of the pitch and dictate the pace of the game.


The 5-2-3 formation is flexible and can be adapted to suit different situations. For example, the wing-backs can push up to provide width and support the attack, or drop back to provide additional defensive cover.

Counter-Attacking Opportunities: The 5-2-3 formation can provide opportunities for quick counter-attacks, particularly if the opposition commits too many players forward.


Vulnerability to Counter-Attacks

With three forwards and two attacking wing-backs, the 5-2-3 formation can leave the team vulnerable to counter-attacks. If the opposition can exploit the gaps left by the attacking players, they can quickly transition from defense to attack and create scoring opportunities.

Overworked Midfielders

The two central midfielders in the 5-2-3 formation may become overworked, especially if the opposition is strong in midfield. This can lead to fatigue and mistakes, which can be costly for the team. Limited Defensive Cover

With only five defenders and two central midfielders, the 5-2-3 formation may leave the defense exposed if the opposition is strong in attack. If the opposition can overload the midfield or create overloads on the wings, they can create scoring opportunities against the team.

Limited Width

The 5-2-3 formation can be narrow, which can make it difficult for the team to create scoring opportunities from wide areas. This can make the team predictable and easier for the opposition to defend against.

Requires Specific Player Skills

The 5-2-3 formation requires specific player skills, such as attacking wing-backs who can provide width and defensive cover, and central midfielders who can control the midfield and support the attack. If the team does not have players with these specific skills, the formation may be less effective.

How to Counter 5-2-3 Formation?

Exploit the Wings: The 5-2-3 formation can be narrow, which makes it vulnerable to attacks from wide areas. Teams can try to exploit the space on the wings by playing wingers or attacking full-backs who can provide width and create scoring opportunities.

Overload the Midfield: The 5-2-3 formation relies heavily on the two central midfielders to control the midfield. Teams can try to overload the midfield by playing an extra midfielder or by pressing aggressively in midfield to disrupt the team's build-up play.

Counter-Attack: The 5-2-3 formation can be vulnerable to counter-attacks, especially if the attacking wing-backs push forward and leave space behind them. Teams can try to exploit this by playing quick, direct passes to their forwards who can make runs behind the defense.

Play a High Press: The 5-2-3 formation relies on the midfielders to control the game, so playing a high press can disrupt the team's build-up play and force them to make mistakes. This can create scoring opportunities for the opposition.

Defend Deep: The 5-2-3 formation is designed to create attacking opportunities, so defending deep can limit the space for the attackers to operate in. This can frustrate the team and force them to take shots from distance or play hopeful long balls.

Suggested Counter Formations
  • 4-3-3
  • 3-5-2
  • 4-5-1
  • 5-3-2


Here are some notable teams and games that have utilized the 5-2-3 formation:

  • Argentina National Team, 1978 World Cup Final: The Argentine team, led by Mario Kempes and coached by Cesar Luis Menotti, used a 5-2-3 formation to defeat the Netherlands in the 1978 World Cup final. The formation allowed Argentina to control the midfield and attack with speed and precision.
  • Barcelona FC, 2008-2009 season: During the 2008-2009 season, Barcelona FC used a 5-2-3 formation under coach Pep Guardiola. The formation allowed the team to dominate possession and create scoring opportunities through their quick passing and movement.
  • Uruguay National Team, 2010 World Cup: The Uruguay team, coached by Oscar Tabarez, used a 5-2-3 formation to great effect in the 2010 World Cup. The formation allowed them to defend resolutely and counter-attack quickly with their pacey forwards.