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What is 2-3-5 formation in soccer? 2-3-5 Soccer Formation Guide

2-3-5 Soccer Formation

What is a 2-3-5 formation in soccer?

A 2-3-5 formation is a shaping strategy in soccer with two defensive backs, three midfielders, and five forwards. The 2-3-5 formation is a classic formation with impressive attacking power. This is often referred to as the pyramid formation due to its lopsided structure.

2-3-5 Formation Roles and Responsibilities

Defensive Backs

A unique trait and common downfall of the 2-3-5 formation are its two defensive backs. Since the formation is such a heavy attacking formation, two players are left as the last line of defense before their goal. This puts a lot of pressure on them as a trade-off for the formation’s offensive power.


There are three midfielders in this formation, usually composed of two outside midfielders and a center midfielder. As in other formations with this midfield presence (like the 4-3-3), these midfielders can triangulate to push the ball forwards or fall back if their team is in need of a sudden defensive surge. Midfielders must act fast to make up for the formation’s lopsided offense when the opposing team attempts a counterattack.


There are five forward positions in the 2-3-5 formation. Thus, the 2-3-5 is one of the most attack-heavy formations in soccer. The 2-3-5 features three central forwards and two outside forwards. The central forwards are responsible for receiving passes from midfielders, receiving crosses from outside forwards, and finishing in the box. The outside forwards are responsible for providing offensive pressure on the outside and feeding the ball into the box for the center forwards.

Pros of 2-3-5 Formation

The main pro of the 2-3-5 formation is its immense offensive power. By sacrificing players that would typically serve as defensive backs, this formation has more than double the amount of forwards of most team structures. This large number of players also allows for a lot of offensive versatility because those five players can structure themselves in a variety of ways to quickly pass the ball around and attempt a goal.

Cons of 2-3-5 Formation

The main downside to the 2-3-5 formation is the lack of defensive presence. There are only two players on the last line of defense, making it extremely important to keep the ball on the attacking half of the pitch. If the opposing team is able to break through the first line, there will be only two midfielders and two defenders standing in the way of the goal. This is contrary to most popular formations in soccer, which typically have at least three defensive backs.

Variations of 2-3-5 Formation

Most variations of the 2-3-5 formation feature different placement of the forward and midfield lines. Some variations of the 2-3-5 include the forwards all on the same line, while others stagger them to provide more spacing. While the typical 2-3-5 formation features three center midfielders, some variations include two central midfielders and an attacking or defensive midfielder. However, there will always be two defensive backs in all variations of this formation.