Definition of 3-5-2

While the 4-3-3 and 4-2-3-1 has dominated the last decade of football, a formation that has started to break into the (non-Italian) mainstream over the past few seasons is the 3-5-2.

A very popular football formation is the 3-5-2.  Illustrated.In this formation, there are 3 centre backs, with a pair of wing backs flanking them (who are counted in the "5"). Without the ball, the formation transforms into a back 5, giving a lot of defensive stability and men between the ball and goal.

This formation can overload the midfield quite easily. There are 3 central midfielders, who are normally situated in some sort of triangle formation. Then there are the two wing backs, while a centre back can step forward or a striker can drop back. With so many options available, it gives a big boost to possession for the team using this formation.

Then there are the strikers. A team using this formation gets the benefits of having 2 forwards akin to how it is used in the 4-4-2. They can work off of one another and provide another outlet for teams that need to defensively clear the ball. On the other side, it provides another player in the box.

As mentioned, the formation is still commonly used in Italy. Antonio Conte's Inter Milan uses it, as does Atalanta B.C under Gian Piero Gasperini. It was Antonio Conte who started Juventus' dominance of Serie A with the 3-5-2 formation, and he also managed to win the Premier League with Chelsea using the formation.

It can be a difficult formation to play, with a lot of tactical knowledge and drilling needed from the centre-backs. However, if used correctly, the 3-5-2 can lead to teams dominating the other thanks to the numbers being pushed forward.