Identifying the Players Needed to Set Your Team Up in a 3-5-2 Formation
The 3-5-2 formation is once again becoming very popular across the professional game these days, all across Europe the trend is growing, but most notably, Chelsea FC out of southwest London is incorporating this system under Italian manager Antonio Conte to great success as they sit atop the Premier League.
But just drawing up the X's and O's on the white board and throwing out any combination of players won't equate to automatic success, you've got to carefully identify players with the right skill sets in order to properly implement this system and see positive results.
Here are some of the main things you should consider if you think the 3-5-2 lineup might be the right system for you.
Deliver Good Service
If you’re going to setup in a 3-5-2, you are asking your outside defenders to play as wing-backs, and one of the main directives of this system is to create good width down the channels. Setting up this way means you will be identifying players that are good at providing service into the box, so it's imperative that you unearth players that can whip in good crosses with either foot to the strikers and late-arriving midfielders in and around the penalty area.
Cover Ground with Pace
It is critical that your wing-backs in this system can cover lots of ground and play box-to-box, they are tasked with providing cover for the three center-backs in the wide areas when your team is defending, and are asked to race forward with tremendous pace in the transition from defense to attack. It is therefore vital to select players that have a unique engine, players that never seem to tire or stop working for the badge, and are comfortable running with and without the ball at high speed up and down the flanks.
Comfortable Going 1v1
Since the wing-backs will often be isolated in the attacking-third verse opposing defenders, it is critical that you select players that are comfortable, enthused and excited by the prospect of taking on opponents 1v1 to create goal scoring opportunities. This will require players with high-level technicality, players that are relaxed and confident on the ball, players that have a moves and feints up their sleeves that can be used to get around and past defenders to deliver a final ball.
When you choose to play a 3-5-2, you do so with extreme confidence in your center-back triad. You want physically imposing players that can win aerial challenges, match-up well with strong target strikers, and have the dexterity and speed to keep up with the crafty and highly mobile players your team will face. Ideally, you also want center-backs that are strong on the ball, technically proficient, that can keep possession, play out of the back rather than hoof it clear, and spy passes that break lines.
Finding the right balance is key, so you've got to start by identifying if you have the right players needed to setup your team in a 3-5-2 formation.