The 3-5-2 Formation
The 3-5-2 System can be considered both an attacking and defensive formation. It is made up of three defenders, five midfielders and two forwards. Diagram (a) below illustrates a standard 3-5-2 formation.
Three midfielders will generally play in a central area while two wide midfielders will have the freedom and responsibility of running the entire sideline. Since the back line only consists of three players, one central (sometimes two) midfielder will generally take on the role of defensive midfielder. This player will act as a defensive barrier between the back three and the midfield area.
Wide midfielders have the responsibility of providing width in attack yet at the same time must provide adequate cover for the back three when their team is defending.
Many times the 3-5-2 formation will transform into a 5-3-2 formation when a team is defending. Both wide midfielders may drop into defensive positions making it difficult for the opponent to penetrate. Diagram (b) illustrates the defensive posture taken by many 3-5-2 teams. As can be seen, both wide midfielders have dropped into defensive positions.