Roles of the 3-5-2

#1 Goalkeeper

Goalkeeper is a position that unsurprisingly doesn't really change with different formations, however, certain tasks may be required more often under certain tactical situations, i.e. sweeper keeper when pressing high or acting as "libero" when possessing deep out of the back. 

  • In Possession:

    • Distribute effectively. Scan forward when you have secured the ball and kick or throw early with pace if it is an advantage to do so. Play short to defenders/midfield if your forwards are matched up.

    • Be an option when your team is in possession of the ball.

    • Communicate clearly and early with purposeful instruction.

  • Out of Possession:

    • Starting position relative to the ball and in line with the ball and your goal.

    • Be prepared to play as a sweeper/keeper when the defence pushes up.

    • Shot stopping - ready position, decision whether to catch, punch or parry. React to second chances.

#2, #3, #5 Center Backs

  • Player Attributes:

    • Good defensively​

    • Strong in the air

    • Excellent passing skills

    • Ability to lead and organize the defense

  • In Possession:

    • Be prepared to receive the ball from the goalkeeper

    • Try to play angled passes behind the opposition. Play sharp, quick passes to WB & CM

    • Support midfield to help maintain possession

    • Attack aerial balls with power, purpose & timing

  • Out of Possession:

    • Be prepared to defend in 1v1 situations, delaying the attack when possible

    • Attack aerial balls with power, purpose and timing.

    • Develop a good understanding with your partners and communicate effectively

    • In a full bock, #2 and #3 move wide as fullbacks and #5 should communicate with #4 dropping into the center

#7, #11 Wing Backs

  • Player Attributes:

    • Good 1v1 defensively and offensively

    • Should possess excellent technical skills 

    • Good vision, awareness, and is able to read the game well

    • Disciplined in not committing too far forward unless given license by coaches

  • In Possession:

    • Try to give width and depth to the attack when playing out from the back

    • Try to provide crosses from different angles in the attacking half of the pitch

    • Try to play angled passes behind the opposition or into the forward's feet in the attacking third

    • Be prepared to play 1v1 in possession of the ball

  • In Possession:

    • Recover to a defensive position quickly, to form the midfield 4
      • Defend the far post area when the opposition is crossing from the opposite flank

      • Press FB when he has the ball

      • Force play wide until support is available, then force them inside

#4 Holding Midfielder

  • Player Attributes:

    • Good defensively, able to win 50/50 challenges consistently​

    • Excellent forward passing and vision

    • Disciplined in positioning

    • Good spatial awareness

  • In Possession:

    • Link play from the defense to attack

    • Be the pivot of the attack, switching the ball across the field

    • Break lines with forward passes to attacking players

    • Be prepared to get on the ball from defenders and goalie

    • Communicate effectively with team

    • Encourage attacking midfielders to support the attack in final third

  • Out of Possession

    • Screen the back 3 in transition

    • Drop into back line as CB in full block

    • Be prepared to defend 1v1 against players dropping in between lines

#6, #8 Attacking Midfielders

  • Player Attributes:

    • Excellent technical skills with both feet

    • Good vision, awareness, and is able to read the game well

  • In Possession:

    • Try to play quick combinations, to shift the opposition, in middle and attacking thirds of the pitch

    • Try to link play from and to the wing backs and forwards

    • Recognize when to run beyond the forwards

    • Try to break lines with your passes

    • Provide support for the forwards when in possession & recognize when you need to run in behind

  • Out of Possession:

    • Pressure opponents quickly, try to intercept passes during transition

    • Disrupt the opposition's build-up play

    • Try to force the opposition to play into congested areas or backwards

    • Recover to a middle 4 in full block

    • Screen passes into opponents striker

    • Be prepared to defend 1v1 against players dropping in between lines

#9, #10 Forwards/Strikers

  • Player Attributes:

    • Large player(s), strong on the ball and able to hold up play AND/OR

    • Fast player(s), able to exploit gaps in defense and run onto through balls in behind

  • In Possession:

    • Be positive & direct in advanced areas of the pitch. Shoot with precision

    • Work together to create space and then exploit it

    • Show for passes into feet and try to receive on the half turn, or make runs in behind defense

    • Be mobile and challenge the defenders to mark up

    • When play is developing in wide areas, look for spaces between defenders to attack crosses

  • Out of Possession:

    • Work together to be an effective first line of defense

    • Force the defenders to play into central areas or make risky passes

    • Try to prevent the ball going into midfield