The players role in the 3-5-2 formation

Posted by

Usually, when you go for the 3-5-2 formation, it is because you are a coach that want to dominate possession and not sit back and defend

To implement the system, you need to be aware of the requirements, the strengths and the weaknesses of the formation and luckily you can have a taste at them in this post about the 3-5-2 formation

Without any delays let’s dive right into the action and get to know the duties of the players in this masterpiece of a football formation

The Goalkeeper

The guardian of the box and the hero of the team, the goalkeeper’s role evolved with football and became an effective actor in the game rather than just waiting for someone to shoot at them.

In the 3-5-2 formation, the goalie should have excellent passing techniques to help the team maintain possession of the ball

Also, he should be on high alert the whole game and play as a sweeper for the team if the defence gets breached.

To sum it up, Organisation, shot-stopping, and good feet are the key attributes of the modern goalkeeper.

The defenders

Playing with three defender means they have to cover more space and to do so they most communicate well with each other and not run around without a plan

They should take initiative engaging with the opposition’s player once they breach the midfield and not just wait for them to get closer to the box, usually the defensive midfielder and the three defenders work in tandems to retrieve the ball

The opposition will always play in the space behind the wingers, so the three should move in a rotation to cover the wings just so they don’t open spaces in the middle of the defence

High quality passes and dexterity with the ball is a must for the defenders since the team will dominate the ball most if the time


The wing-backs

without the right players this formation will not succeed and it is difficult to find the right players for the wing-backs position

These two players are crucial to the stability of the 3-5-2 formation.

Having in mind their defensive duties they should be a power to be reckoned with in the terms of attacking, they will be covering their wings 90 minutes so they should be fit.

Their movement of going up is what provide width for the formation and give the players passing angles

They also should drag the fullback out of position by using the width of the field so they can create spaces for the strikers and the midfielders

Attacking at all time they should keep an eye on their backs and watch out for possible counters

The key to performing both in attack and in defence is communicating with the central mid so they can cover the spaces.

The best teams that play 3-5-2 all have strong athletic wing-backs who are confident on the ball and offer a threat going forward while not neglecting their defensive work.


While the centrebacks stubbornly defend the goal and the superhuman wingbacks provide width and movement, it is the midfielders who dictate and control the game.

In this section of the field the orientations of the coach become clear. whether it is to defend or to dominate the guidelines given to the midfielders show it all

Having a holding player is a must while using three players in the center

And the more he is oriented for the defence the more it is reassuring for the team when they move forward to score especially the wingers

He is the ‘Piece maitresse” of the 3-5-2 formation with a huge role in it’s success.

Some coaches prefer to play two deep holding players, many others opt for more offensive options in the centre of the park.

Then there is the box to box midfielder, he should be energetic, good at tackling and willing to run day and night after the ball

He is mostly used in pressing the opposition and denying them passing lanes throughout the game.

They are not only bound to defensive duty, they are allowed to move forward and support the strikers.

The attacking midfielder has less defensive roles compared to the other two.

He uses this to get in the spaces in front of the defences of the opposition.

He has to combine with the wing-backs to bring danger to the opposition and he has got to have a good shooting abilities since he is tasked with scoring like the two strikers.

Operating in small pockets of space, they must have great technical skills and vision to bring others into play.

This central trio have a lot of responsibility in the team and must work well together to create the attacking options that a well-functioning 3-5-2 formation can provide.

The strikers

In the 3-5-2 formation the strikers are the first line of defence, when losing the ball they become the first players to initiate the pressing

Pressing the defence high is a key to forcing errors or long passes, the goal is to make it hard for the opposition to get the ball out.

Operating as a duo up front, the strikers must work in tandem and have a good understanding so that they don’t get in each other’s way.

While it is the wing-backs that give the team width, it is the strikers who give it depth. Both are crucial for the midfielders to have enough space to play in.

If the strikers drop too deep, they convolute the midfield and lessen the effectiveness of having three in the centre of the park.


The 3-5-2 soccer formation is a well rounded system, means that it is as good both in defending and attacking and offers a great tactical flexibility to shift to other football formation during the game.

If you are new to this football system or you want to be inspired on how to coach a team to play under its laws and maximize its efficiency I recommend you get Coaching 3-5-2 Tactics – 125 Tactical Solutions & Practices by Renato Montagnolo

This book is a comprehensive resource for coaching the 3-5-2 formation at all levels. The level of detail and tactical solutions included will help you emulate how top coaches, such as Antonio Conte (Inter) and Nuno Espírito Santo (Wolverhampton Wanderers), use the 3-5-2 to great success.

This book includes:

  • Tactical Strengths and Weaknesses of the 3-5-2 Formation
  • 3-5-2 Tactics Against Different Formations (4-4-2, 4-2-3-1, 4-3-3, 4-3-1-2, 3-5-2 and 3-4-3)
  • Overcoming the First Line of Pressing (Build-up Play from the Back)
  • Moving the Ball in Between the Opposition’s Midfield and Defensive Lines
  • Playing in Behind the Opposition’s Defensive Line
  • Defensive Organisation and Pressing
  • Organisation of the Defensive Line
  • 41 Practices and Variations to Apply Tactical Solutions with the 3-5-2

You can get the book by following the link here …. Get it you won’t regret it


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s