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  1. #1
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    The art of 3-5-2, and the big semi-final vs Croatia

    This is mostly gonna be an England thread but will chime in with other examples of how other teams have been successful with it, and how this formation is a perfect match for this England side.

    We've seen in the past previous managers loiter with a 4 at the back system, with wingers and a central striker being the main spine of the team. So a 4-3-3, 4-2-3-1, 4-4-1-1. Although it was good for the class of players we had at the time, I'm incredibly glad that Southgate has moved on from this and has pursued instead for a dynamic 3-5-2. He could've easily chosen to go for a 4-3-3, playing the following:
    Pickford; Walker Stones Maguire Young; Lingard Henderson Alli; Rashford Kane Sterling
    The above however would've exposed England's lack of experience in defending without the ball - especially in midfield whereby Alli and Lingard are more attacking minded players. Although they both have the work rate to be CMs, they don't really have the positional knowhow or natural CM instinct on how to behave without the ball. Of course you could replace Lingard or Alli with Delph, or even a Dier and make it a 4-2-3-1 with Lingard or Alli as the 10 behind Kane. However there'd be a lack of willing runners from either Henderson or Dier to cause more panic in the opposition penalty box as they're a deep-lying playmaker and a classic ball winning defensive midfielder respectively. Having Alli/Lingard to be the sole creators with the wingers would prove difficult as the opponents' 2 CBs can focus on Kane, opposition would double up on our wingers with the fall back and winger, the opponents' CDM can focus on our 10 and with Dier and Henderson not making any runs, it'd be easy for any opposition to shut us out.

    The above 4-3-3 is also weak not only defensively through the midfield, but it would also mean England playing Guadiola-esque football in having the ball vsing nearly all opposition we face. Man-to-man it looks like something that England COULD do, since Sterling plays his best as a RW coming inside, Walker is used to it as a RB at Man City and knows the role he has, Lingard and Alli are similar to Silva and KDB (not in skill lol) in terms of both being attacking minded but can put in a lot of effort to work for the CDM in Henderson, and Henderson is sort of similar to Fernandinho. On paper, it could work. But the fact that Southgate doesn't have the luxury of spending as much time as Pep does, and the fact that there's a HUGE gulf in skill between an England and a Man City, the above wouldn't work as it would expose our frailties too much and even though we may see a more exciting side offensively, we also see a more shaky side defensively.

    So whoosh, what is the best formation to accommodate stand-out performers of last season? The mighty 3-5-2.

    Pickford; Walker Stones Maguire; Trippier Lingard Henderson Alli Young; Sterling Kane
    This formation gives freedom to both Alli and Lingard with the defensively security of Henderson backed by a moving screen of Walker-Stones-Maguire to help against counter attacks. They both have had some experience in playing in a 3-5-2 formation for their club teams, and in CM. They work hard and have the quality to work together, whereby Lingard would be more focused in making runs in-behind as, in my opinion, he is one of the best players with his attacking movement in the Premier League. Alli has had a lot of experience playing with Kane so they have a good connection. In his role as a CM though it'd be more of a mature role in tracking back but he'll still have the ball in the attacking areas and will be key in breaking down defensive with key balls and movement in getting in the opponents' box. We've seen examples of Lingards' runs in the WC, and we've seen how Alli can drift in the box and be a threat, bagging a goal vs Sweden. It was refreshing to see as many as 4 men in the opposition box vsing Sweden since that's what both Alli and Lingard offer - a goal threat. Lingard especially has worked tirelessly in this role and offers so much to this England side and the role he is in suits him a lot.
    Playing 3-5-2 also means playing Trippier who, since his Burnley days, has one of the best crosses and is a great creative RB which shows as he's 3rd in most chances created in the WC. There's a reason why he takes set-pieces and he's shown it so far this WC. He has more freedom to go forward and having Kane at the end of quality crosses - mate it will cause all havoc in ANY opposition box. Young on the left side too has been used to playing LWB in his LvG days (don't remind me) and a LB for JM. He's reignited his career as a great LB and had a very solid season for Man Utd due to his work ethic and good delivery in the box. So this formation plays with England's strength in putting quality crosses in the box with having a genuine target man up top.

    Just on the last point - in the previous WCs we've had Lambert (2014), Crouch, Heskey (2010), Crouch (2006) for our target men. Kane is a huge upgrade is a key reason why England is where they are right now. Kane is definitely world class and the names above are C class strikers.

    Walker, Stones and Maguire in defence is a very good trio. You have the pace of Walker, calmness of Stones, and the sturdiness of Maguire. All three compliment each other somewhat, but we have shown we're not invincible. At times Walker has been sloppy in possession, as has Maguire, in trying to play out from the back. Walker isn't suited to CB as Stones and Maguire are, so is more likely to be a bit more uneasy about his positioning. But from open play, we have defending well by getting numbers back, and countering when we can with Kane, Sterling up top and Lingard, Alli supporting.

    The last position I want to discuss is Sterling. This team would be better suited playing Rashford instead as Sterling has his better days playing as a RW (as seen in Man City last season) coming inside, thereby being a threat in the box. However he has shown that he has the ability to run in behind defences. But again, it annoys me that Rashford would be more suited to this role since he offers more in strength, movement, finishing (well, his effort was saved vs Belgium, but Sterling's 1 on 1 was also denied vs Sweden), more direct take-ons and would have better decision making. Can't see him starting vs Croatia as Southgate will most likely go with the same XI.

    So we've established that the formation suits all our players. We've seen that this formation is also a very solid one as Belgium has been playing 3-5-2 and 3-4-3 in most of their games, most notably a 3-4-3 against Brazil. You can see that the formation was to get the best out of KDB, Hazard. In earlier stages there were complaints that a 3-5-2 wasn't getting the best out of KDB. A change to 3-4-3 allowed him to move more freely in the right wing area, and being in the attacking areas makes it easier to pick the perfect pass. His goal came from a moment of quality (made in Manchester ;). Fellaini > Lukaku > KDB) and it would've surprise me if they play the same 3-4-3 to expose the left side of France of Hernandez. But the 3-4-3 also gets the best out of Lukaku as he is the target man that'll run down the channels and allows Hazard and KDB to roam the channels to also provide a wide option.
    Russia were also successful vsing Spain with 3 at the back, shutting out any space and making it extremely tough for Spain to play through them. Obviously at times playing 3 at the back helps when having 3 shuts out the space in behind and that's what Spain are good at exposing. But it still required execution and the Russians did that marvellously, played for penalties and progressed through.

    Going forward vsing Croatia it seems like we'll play the same formation and the same line up. Croatia will also most likely play the same XI as they did vs Russia with Kramaric, Modric and Rakitic occupying their midfield. They'll try and play their way in-behind our wing backs and like to get the ball forward quickly out wide. It wouldn't surprise me if it would be an 55-45 possession based game in favour of Croatia since they'll be trying to break down the English defence and playing 3 at the back would make us a bit more resolute, especially with a powerhouse like Maguire in defence. I don't have worries in getting outnumbered in midfield since we'll have cover in our wings and they're more partial to scoring by getting the ball out wide. What scares me is that they can play with such pace in the midfield which may overwhelm us at times, thereby creating spaces in-behind and through balls would be deadly in creating chances for Croatia. A positive, however, is that they have shown to be, like Spain, clueless if you do play resolutely in defence and they can get frustrated. England do play with energy and I feel like our midfield has the legs and the quality to run in-behind Croatia's back line (as Rakitic and Modric aren't natural defenders and are more suited to controlling the game with the ball in possession) so like Sweden, getting numbers in the box will be key.

    Set pieces will decide it too. We definitely have the quality to deliver the ball in, and we have the quality to finish it. Croatia have shown they are somewhat suspect to set pieces vsing both Denmark and Russia with goals conceded through free kicks, while England have been bulldozers in scoring so many goals through set pieces. Wouldn't be surprised if we see another Maguire/Stones header from a corner, or a goal from Alli/Lingard by getting in the box and whipping the ball in the box.
    But as good as we are at set pieces, we gotta stay focused since Croatia pose a threat too. I feel like the goals conceded by Panama, Colombia from set pieces show that it's an area we have to be wary of, and since Croatia scored their 2nd goal vs Russia from a set piece they also possess another way to score.
    Just a small message to say that Pickford looked immense vs Sweden and that penalty shoot-out win really gave him a boost of confidence. I expect another commanding performance from him.

    Overall, the 3-5-2 formation is the saviour of this current side. We have the quality to beat Croatia. Defensively we can be a bit shaky, but we have the quality from the wings and through midfield to score a goal whether it be from open play or, more likely, from set pieces.

    No one gave this team a chance, but I have faith we can beat Croatia as they've looked a bit sluggish in the last couple games. Going to ET in both is a huge advantage to us that we gotta capitalise on. In all the games we've started off bright, and I don't see that changing. Hopefully we can get a goal in the first half, but if anything it'll be 0-0 by HT with no risks being deployed by any of the teams. The main aim should be to get the ball out side, get some corners and test the uncertain Subasic in goal. We've been good defensively, like I said, so I can see us potentially holding out for a clean sheet but it just depends if we get a chance at the other end and bag it home. 1-0 to England, with Kane getting the goal is what I think it'll be.

    Mental strength and self-confidence is what matters at this stage. We have plentiful after a penalty shoot-out win in the WC for the first time ever, and a comfortable 2-0 win vs Sweden. We're young, confident, hungry and hae nothing to lose. Hopefully we end up on the winning side come Wednesday night.
    Last edited by AssassinatedDevil; 9th July 2018 at 06:42.

  2. #2
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    I agree it's the best system for England. Southgate knows the limitations of his players. England do not possess a great player as they did in 90 with Gazza. They dont have a Hazard, Messi, Ronaldo, Isco, Neymar or Modric. England play a direct attacking style, using their wingbacks to get up the field and create crossing opportunties. England have an array of excellent headers of the ball. Set pieces and crosses are the way to go for this team, with a bit of luck this will do the trick.

    The problem is if Croatia play anywhere near their potential England will not have much possession and Croatia unlike England have the ability to score from open play. If England go behind, they will need to change the system, take some risks as crossing the ball or waiting for set pieces are opportunities which might no arise often enough.

    Btw Croaita have a good keeper esp in terms of saving penalties.


    Lions don't lose sleep over the opinions of Sheep

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by idrizzy View Post
    This is mostly gonna be an England thread but will chime in with other examples of how other teams have been successful with it, and how this formation is a perfect match for this England side.

    We've seen in the past previous managers loiter with a 4 at the back system, with wingers and a central striker being the main spine of the team. So a 4-3-3, 4-2-3-1, 4-4-1-1. Although it was good for the class of players we had at the time, I'm incredibly glad that Southgate has moved on from this and has pursued instead for a dynamic 3-5-2. He could've easily chosen to go for a 4-3-3, playing the following:
    Pickford; Walker Stones Maguire Young; Lingard Henderson Alli; Rashford Kane Sterling
    The above however would've exposed England's lack of experience in defending without the ball - especially in midfield whereby Alli and Lingard are more attacking minded players. Although they both have the work rate to be CMs, they don't really have the positional knowhow or natural CM instinct on how to behave without the ball. Of course you could replace Lingard or Alli with Delph, or even a Dier and make it a 4-2-3-1 with Lingard or Alli as the 10 behind Kane. However there'd be a lack of willing runners from either Henderson or Dier to cause more panic in the opposition penalty box as they're a deep-lying playmaker and a classic ball winning defensive midfielder respectively. Having Alli/Lingard to be the sole creators with the wingers would prove difficult as the opponents' 2 CBs can focus on Kane, opposition would double up on our wingers with the fall back and winger, the opponents' CDM can focus on our 10 and with Dier and Henderson not making any runs, it'd be easy for any opposition to shut us out.

    The above 4-3-3 is also weak not only defensively through the midfield, but it would also mean England playing Guadiola-esque football in having the ball vsing nearly all opposition we face. Man-to-man it looks like something that England COULD do, since Sterling plays his best as a RW coming inside, Walker is used to it as a RB at Man City and knows the role he has, Lingard and Alli are similar to Silva and KDB (not in skill lol) in terms of both being attacking minded but can put in a lot of effort to work for the CDM in Henderson, and Henderson is sort of similar to Fernandinho. On paper, it could work. But the fact that Southgate doesn't have the luxury of spending as much time as Pep does, and the fact that there's a HUGE gulf in skill between an England and a Man City, the above wouldn't work as it would expose our frailties too much and even though we may see a more exciting side offensively, we also see a more shaky side defensively.

    So whoosh, what is the best formation to accommodate stand-out performers of last season? The mighty 3-5-2.

    Pickford; Walker Stones Maguire; Trippier Lingard Henderson Alli Young; Sterling Kane
    This formation gives freedom to both Alli and Lingard with the defensively security of Henderson backed by a moving screen of Walker-Stones-Maguire to help against counter attacks. They both have had some experience in playing in a 3-5-2 formation for their club teams, and in CM. They work hard and have the quality to work together, whereby Lingard would be more focused in making runs in-behind as, in my opinion, he is one of the best players with his attacking movement in the Premier League. Alli has had a lot of experience playing with Kane so they have a good connection. In his role as a CM though it'd be more of a mature role in tracking back but he'll still have the ball in the attacking areas and will be key in breaking down defensive with key balls and movement in getting in the opponents' box. We've seen examples of Lingards' runs in the WC, and we've seen how Alli can drift in the box and be a threat, bagging a goal vs Sweden. It was refreshing to see as many as 4 men in the opposition box vsing Sweden since that's what both Alli and Lingard offer - a goal threat. Lingard especially has worked tirelessly in this role and offers so much to this England side and the role he is in suits him a lot.
    Playing 3-5-2 also means playing Trippier who, since his Burnley days, has one of the best crosses and is a great creative RB which shows as he's 3rd in most chances created in the WC. There's a reason why he takes set-pieces and he's shown it so far this WC. He has more freedom to go forward and having Kane at the end of quality crosses - mate it will cause all havoc in ANY opposition box. Young on the left side too has been used to playing LWB in his LvG days (don't remind me) and a LB for JM. He's reignited his career as a great LB and had a very solid season for Man Utd due to his work ethic and good delivery in the box. So this formation plays with England's strength in putting quality crosses in the box with having a genuine target man up top.

    Just on the last point - in the previous WCs we've had Lambert (2014), Crouch, Heskey (2010), Crouch (2006) for our target men. Kane is a huge upgrade is a key reason why England is where they are right now. Kane is definitely world class and the names above are C class strikers.

    Walker, Stones and Maguire in defence is a very good trio. You have the pace of Walker, calmness of Stones, and the sturdiness of Maguire. All three compliment each other somewhat, but we have shown we're not invincible. At times Walker has been sloppy in possession, as has Maguire, in trying to play out from the back. Walker isn't suited to CB as Stones and Maguire are, so is more likely to be a bit more uneasy about his positioning. But from open play, we have defending well by getting numbers back, and countering when we can with Kane, Sterling up top and Lingard, Alli supporting.

    The last position I want to discuss is Sterling. This team would be better suited playing Rashford instead as Sterling has his better days playing as a RW (as seen in Man City last season) coming inside, thereby being a threat in the box. However he has shown that he has the ability to run in behind defences. But again, it annoys me that Rashford would be more suited to this role since he offers more in strength, movement, finishing (well, his effort was saved vs Belgium, but Sterling's 1 on 1 was also denied vs Sweden), more direct take-ons and would have better decision making. Can't see him starting vs Croatia as Southgate will most likely go with the same XI.

    So we've established that the formation suits all our players. We've seen that this formation is also a very solid one as Belgium has been playing 3-5-2 and 3-4-3 in most of their games, most notably a 3-4-3 against Brazil. You can see that the formation was to get the best out of KDB, Hazard. In earlier stages there were complaints that a 3-5-2 wasn't getting the best out of KDB. A change to 3-4-3 allowed him to move more freely in the right wing area, and being in the attacking areas makes it easier to pick the perfect pass. His goal came from a moment of quality (made in Manchester ;). Fellaini > Lukaku > KDB) and it would've surprise me if they play the same 3-4-3 to expose the left side of France of Hernandez. But the 3-4-3 also gets the best out of Lukaku as he is the target man that'll run down the channels and allows Hazard and KDB to roam the channels to also provide a wide option.
    Russia were also successful vsing Spain with 3 at the back, shutting out any space and making it extremely tough for Spain to play through them. Obviously at times playing 3 at the back helps when having 3 shuts out the space in behind and that's what Spain are good at exposing. But it still required execution and the Russians did that marvellously, played for penalties and progressed through.

    Going forward vsing Croatia it seems like we'll play the same formation and the same line up. Croatia will also most likely play the same XI as they did vs Russia with Kramaric, Modric and Rakitic occupying their midfield. They'll try and play their way in-behind our wing backs and like to get the ball forward quickly out wide. It wouldn't surprise me if it would be an 55-45 possession based game in favour of Croatia since they'll be trying to break down the English defence and playing 3 at the back would make us a bit more resolute, especially with a powerhouse like Maguire in defence. I don't have worries in getting outnumbered in midfield since we'll have cover in our wings and they're more partial to scoring by getting the ball out wide. What scares me is that they can play with such pace in the midfield which may overwhelm us at times, thereby creating spaces in-behind and through balls would be deadly in creating chances for Croatia. A positive, however, is that they have shown to be, like Spain, clueless if you do play resolutely in defence and they can get frustrated. England do play with energy and I feel like our midfield has the legs and the quality to run in-behind Croatia's back line (as Rakitic and Modric aren't natural defenders and are more suited to controlling the game with the ball in possession) so like Sweden, getting numbers in the box will be key.

    Set pieces will decide it too. We definitely have the quality to deliver the ball in, and we have the quality to finish it. Croatia have shown they are somewhat suspect to set pieces vsing both Denmark and Russia with goals conceded through free kicks, while England have been bulldozers in scoring so many goals through set pieces. Wouldn't be surprised if we see another Maguire/Stones header from a corner, or a goal from Alli/Lingard by getting in the box and whipping the ball in the box.
    But as good as we are at set pieces, we gotta stay focused since Croatia pose a threat too. I feel like the goals conceded by Panama, Colombia from set pieces show that it's an area we have to be wary of, and since Croatia scored their 2nd goal vs Russia from a set piece they also possess another way to score.
    Just a small message to say that Pickford looked immense vs Sweden and that penalty shoot-out win really gave him a boost of confidence. I expect another commanding performance from him.

    Overall, the 3-5-2 formation is the saviour of this current side. We have the quality to beat Croatia. Defensively we can be a bit shaky, but we have the quality from the wings and through midfield to score a goal whether it be from open play or, more likely, from set pieces.

    No one gave this team a chance, but I have faith we can beat Croatia as they've looked a bit sluggish in the last couple games. Going to ET in both is a huge advantage to us that we gotta capitalise on. In all the games we've started off bright, and I don't see that changing. Hopefully we can get a goal in the first half, but if anything it'll be 0-0 by HT with no risks being deployed by any of the teams. The main aim should be to get the ball out side, get some corners and test the uncertain Subasic in goal. We've been good defensively, like I said, so I can see us potentially holding out for a clean sheet but it just depends if we get a chance at the other end and bag it home. 1-0 to England, with Kane getting the goal is what I think it'll be.

    Mental strength and self-confidence is what matters at this stage. We have plentiful after a penalty shoot-out win in the WC for the first time ever, and a comfortable 2-0 win vs Sweden. We're young, confident, hungry and hae nothing to lose. Hopefully we end up on the winning side come Wednesday night.
    Excellent / insightful post, largely agree with you. I hope the media do not get the knives out especially in the direction of Southgate, he deserves a lot of credit and to continue until Qatar at the very least. Regardless, the team are going to return home to a hero's welcome and that golden boot is guaranteed to come home either way


    Ah, so this is what it feels like

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by KingKhanWC View Post
    I agree it's the best system for England. Southgate knows the limitations of his players. England do not possess a great player as they did in 90 with Gazza. They dont have a Hazard, Messi, Ronaldo, Isco, Neymar or Modric. England play a direct attacking style, using their wingbacks to get up the field and create crossing opportunties. England have an array of excellent headers of the ball. Set pieces and crosses are the way to go for this team, with a bit of luck this will do the trick.

    The problem is if Croatia play anywhere near their potential England will not have much possession and Croatia unlike England have the ability to score from open play. If England go behind, they will need to change the system, take some risks as crossing the ball or waiting for set pieces are opportunities which might no arise often enough.

    Btw Croaita have a good keeper esp in terms of saving penalties.
    We're playing to our strengths though. We have quality crossers and Kane in the box, so it's smart to get the ball out wide. But we have seen moments where we can cut open a defence - but not with the quality that Croatia does, that's true. But like I said, Croatia have struggled against turgid defences and England does have a defence which'll be hard to break down.

    That's why I would like Rashford to start, or be subbed on at like 65 mins (at 0-0, if 1-0 down then earlier) since he offers a lot more threat than Sterling. It gives England more movement and more excitement in the final third and Sterling has been beyond shocking this tournament. If worst comes to worst, maybe even sub off Walker for Rashford to go to a 4-3-3. Let's hope it doesn't come to that though.

    He had a "hamstring" problem, but has been a bit suspect at times - I think England can exploit that in set pieces.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by idrizzy View Post
    We're playing to our strengths though. We have quality crossers and Kane in the box, so it's smart to get the ball out wide. But we have seen moments where we can cut open a defence - but not with the quality that Croatia does, that's true. But like I said, Croatia have struggled against turgid defences and England does have a defence which'll be hard to break down.

    That's why I would like Rashford to start, or be subbed on at like 65 mins (at 0-0, if 1-0 down then earlier) since he offers a lot more threat than Sterling. It gives England more movement and more excitement in the final third and Sterling has been beyond shocking this tournament. If worst comes to worst, maybe even sub off Walker for Rashford to go to a 4-3-3. Let's hope it doesn't come to that though.

    He had a "hamstring" problem, but has been a bit suspect at times - I think England can exploit that in set pieces.
    There is no way the manager will drop Sterling for Rashford at this stage esp since Sterling dribbled well outside the oppositions box, even though his shooting was poor as usual.

    Yep, England are very strong in the air which is an old English classic play. England just need to keep it direct, crossing into the box with 3/4 players in there. They should score a goal or two but will the Croatians allow this, they are not stupid will look to play England off the park.


    Lions don't lose sleep over the opinions of Sheep

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    Quote Originally Posted by KingKhanWC View Post
    There is no way the manager will drop Sterling for Rashford at this stage esp since Sterling dribbled well outside the oppositions box, even though his shooting was poor as usual.

    Yep, England are very strong in the air which is an old English classic play. England just need to keep it direct, crossing into the box with 3/4 players in there. They should score a goal or two but will the Croatians allow this, they are not stupid will look to play England off the park.
    Yeah, plus Sterling has played all games so far (exclud. the rested Belgium game) so I doubt he'll not start vsing Croatia. He was alright but still the poorest English player on the pitch.

    England play with a bit of intensity in midfield. Alli will have to work hard as he seems to be carrying a bit of a niggle and if he isn't 100%, I wouldn't start him. But overall I think we got the legs in midfield to keep up with Croatia. Hopefully we don't lower the quality of our defending as the time goes on, with tired legs, etc.

  7. #7
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    If Croatia bring their A-game they can smash 4-5 goals past England


    #Mein inko rolaonga

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