Thomas Tuchel is a highly intelligent and tactical manager and he is one of the best in the world at what he does. It is no coincidence that Chelsea has achieved great success since the German manager arrived to replace club legend Frank Lampard in January.
The 3-5-2 formation has always been a defensively secure formation with 5 defenders (3 centre-backs and 2 wingbacks), three midfielders and two attacking players.
Although the shape of the midfield (it could be a flat, diamond or square midfield) determines the attacking patterns favoured, the basics of the 3-5-2 is defensive and as such, it is classified as a defensive formation.
But Thomas Tuchel being the smart and intelligent coach that he is, has started to secretly instill a new variation of the 3-5-2 formation into his Chelsea team and the most surprising part of this is that it could pass as an attacking formation. This new variation was used during Chelsea's Carabao Cup game against Aston Villa.
This new variation is very hard to pinpoint because it is so fluid and interchanging that it could pass as a 4-3-3 or a 3-4-3. When defending, Chelsea's shape dropped to a 3-4-1-1 formation with Ruben Loftus-Cheek playing more centrally to protect the little space between Trevor Chalobah and Malang Sarr.
When attacking, Chelsea's shape metamorphosed into a 3-1-4-2 with Ruben Loftus-Cheek drifting outside towards the right of the midfield and N'golo Kante playing a sort of free role.
Bottom line is, these are all variations of the 3-5-2 formation and it is great for Chelsea because it frees up one extra player to stay closer to Romelu Lukaku and benefit from the Belgian striker's layoffs.
Another advantage of this new variation is that it will solidify the midfield and increase the ability to control more possession as well as limiting space between the lines for opposition teams to exploit. The fact that this new variation is very difficult to work out sums up how great Thomas Tuchel is as a tactician.
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