Football is an ever-changing sport that is always developing and adjusting, with coaches trying out different strategies and formations. One of those strategies is the once-famous 2-3-5 formation, which has become less popular than it used to be in the early 1900s. Let’s take a look at some of the successful wins that this formation brought to teams worldwide, and see if there is a place for this formation in modern day games.
What Is The 2-3-5 Formation?
The first recorded example of the 2-3-5 formation came back in 1877, as Wrexham played the system in their Welsh Cup success that season. The system would see two defensive players sit back at the back of the pitch, and these would be called full-backs. Obviously, in the modern-day game, full-backs are likely referring to the players that play at right-back and left-back.
In front of them were three halfbacks, which would be responsible for offering defensive solidity, as well as passing the ball through the lines to the five attacking players at the top of the pitch. Two of the five forwards would be wingers, while inside forwards would play either side of the centre forward. Historically, the 2-3-5 formation was the first time that a pyramid system was used in the game.
Examples Of 2-3-5 Formation Being Used
While the first recorded use of the system in the United Kingdom came during the Welsh Cup in 1877 when Wrexham won the honour, it was most famously adapted at the World Cup and Olympic Games by Uruguay. The formation was used by the national side at both the 1924 and 1928 Olympic games where they won the gold medals in football. It was then adopted by manager Alberto Suppici in the 1930 World Cup. Uruguay would win their first World Cup in that tournament, as they managed to beat Argentina 4-2.
One of the biggest advantages that the system gave Uruguay in the World Cup of 1930 was its ability to ensure that every area of the field was covered by at least one player. Also, the role of Lorenzo Fernandez, as the middle man of the three halfbacks was essential, as he cut out the threat posed by Argentinean dangerman Guillermo Stabile.
Is The System Being Used Today?
While the original 2-3-5 system that was adopted by Uruguay in their World Cup win in 1930 is no longer as popular, there have certainly been examples of the system being used by some of the biggest teams in the UK, Germany and South America. The first example that we will look at is Pep Guardiola’s Bayern Munich, who used the system on a number of occasions to break through defensive-minded teams.
It was most famously used against Arsenal in the 2015-16 Champions League group stages. In the first meeting between the sides, Arsenal managed to break out and win the game 2-0, but in the return game in Munich, Bayern was outstanding when winning 5-1. Thiago and Xabi Alonso were used as double-pivots, and were able to play the ball through the lines to the five attackers ahead of them. However, rather untraditionally, they were lined up slightly differently, with the 4-2-3-1 formation being used.
Another team that has made a habit of using the 2-3-5 formation when they have possession of the ball in recent years has been Liverpool. The Red has become the most frightening force in the world of football in the final third using this tactic. Jurgen Klopp typically used James Milner, Jordan Henderson, and Georginio Wijnaldum in the middle three during their title-winning campaign, with Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane, and Roberto Firmino playing in the three middle forward positions, and then Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andrew Robertson playing in the wide positions to offer an even more attacking threat.
Could Australia Adapt The 2-3-5 Formation?
Australia is still trying to earn their way through to the World Cup next season, which means Graham Arnold may have been looking to see how he can get the best out of his players in crucial qualifiers. At present, the national side plays a 4-2-3-1 formation, which was used by Guardiola’s Bayern in defensive positions. However, whether the Aussie national side could find balance using the 2-3-5 formation in the final third remains to be seen.
There is certainly the attacking quality there in the forms of Martin Boyle, Mathew Leckie, and Mitch Duke, which means on paper it could work. However, whether Arnold has the time to change his tactics with little time on the training ground in between huge qualification games looks unlikely. But, it could be a subtle change that we could expect to see in the future.
For any fans looking to learn more about formations and in-depth Australian soccer analysis, they can check out the soccer guides at Australia-Casino.