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Coaching Corner

3-5-2 attacking

  • This is essentially a passing formation.

  • The keeper will always look to roll the ball out to either the sweeper or one of the centre backs to start the attack.

  • Once the sweeper has possession of the ball the two centre backs will spread to give him/her two options.

  • Your sitting midfielder will come short for the ball, giving your sweeper another option.

  • Your sitting midfielder is the ‘prober’ . He/she must be a good passer and possess a good first touch, as the play will be going through him/her the majority of the time.

  • When the sitting midfielder is allowed to turn he/she will have a number of passes available.

  • The two more attacking central midfielders will be giving depth to the shape by advancing behind the opposition’s midfield.

  • If playing against the standard 4-4-2 formation, this will give you a number of advantages. First of all, you will outnumber them in the middle of the park and therefore, someone will have to engage the sitting midfielder at some stage. This will lead to one of your attacking midfielders being free and it is this situation that you wish to create.

  • When you can move the ball to your spare midfielder, he/she will be able to run at the back four and either look to shoot or slide a ball through to one of your forwards.

  • Your wing backs are crucial in this formation and they need a lot of discipline and intelligence when playing in this position.

  • If your sitting midfielder is on the ball and the opposition have decided to play ‘tight’ in midfield and to bring their wide men in to combat your three central midfielders, then the wing backs are the favoured ball.

  • If the ball is played out to the right wing back then you do not expect the left wing back to be bombing down the left side as this will leave you exposed. The left wing back will take up a supporting position by staying wide and watching as play develops.

  • You will have two attacking midfielders and two forwards who are capable of making the box for any crosses, so it is important for the wing backs to conserve their energy by simply taking up a position so that, if a cross is over hit, they are in the vicinity to pressure the ball or even retain possession.

  • If the right wing back does not make any headway down his/her side then you can switch play effectively if the left wing back is in a position to receive the ball wide.

  • You expect your forwards to play as a pair. This means one of them dropping short to help with the build-up play while the other may offer a run in behind. Always alternating these runs will make life hard for the opposition and will give your midfielders plenty of options.

  • Encourage two- and three-touch play in this system. This will get the players into a rhythm that will create the habit of moving and creating space for themselves and their teammates.

  • When your players know that the centre midfielder is looking to pass in two touches they will make sure they are available. The same goes for the sweeper. If everyone knows that he/she is going to have two/three touches they will provide the angles and movement necessary to make this happen.
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