5V5 Soccer Formations Explained

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Written by Daniel Pena, Bachelors in Kinesiology and footballer: Learn More

What is 5v5 soccer and what are the best formations? 5v5 soccer is a term used to describe different variations of the beautiful game that are played on smaller fields and with fewer players.

5v5 soccer games can be played informally in the form of small sided games and pick up games, but they can also be played officially in the form of youth grassroots level games, small sided adult leagues, futsal, and beach soccer.

In this blog post, I will be going over the best 5v5 soccer formations that can be used when playing any of these variations of the game.5v5 Soccer Formations

1-2-1 Diamond Formation

The diamond formation is probably the most common formation used in five a side football games because it provides a good balance of defense and attack. The diamond shape is common among all types of formations at all levels of the game and for 5v5 soccer this formation includes one defender, two midfielders, and one outright striker.

With this diamond shape, the team is able to create triangles everywhere around the field and by creating the right angles the team can keep possession of the ball. In this formation the midfield players focus on moving the ball around and looking for empty pockets of space.

Although this is a balanced formation, one of the negatives of using this formation is that if the midfielders and the striker push up during the attack, it can leave the defense badly exposed for counter attacks and other tactics.

5v5 Soccer Formations 2-2 Square Formation

Another common formation used in 5v5 soccer is the 2-2 square or “box” formation. With this formation there are two defenders and two attackers with clearly defined roles. This formation works well when the opposing team is playing with one defender because the two attacking players can create an overload.

For this formation it is important to have exactly two defensive minded players and two attacking minded players to make sure that one can fill in for the other during the course of the game. One of the problems with this formation is that it lacks a midfielder which can create confusion at times during the transition phases of the game.

For example, during the defensive phase, forwards may feel like they don’t have to drop while the defenders may feel like they don’t have to push up during the attacking phase, since they have clear roles of attacking or defending.

5v5 Soccer Formations 2-1-1 Pyramid Formation

Unlike the previous two formations, the 2-1-1 pyramid formation puts an emphasis on the one midfielder that connects both defense and offense together. This formation includes two defenders, one central midfielder, and one striker.

The 2-1-1 formation lacks width, since the two more attacking players are playing in the center of the field, but this allows the team to create different shapes such as diamonds and triangles to move the ball around.

This formation requires two center backs that can play confidently out of the back and it emphasizes build up play since one of its main drawbacks is that it lacks wide players.

5v5 Soccer Formations 1-1-2 Inverse Pyramid

The inverse pyramid, or the Y formation, is exactly what it sounds like and it is the inverse of the pyramid formation. This formation is made up of one defensive player, one midfielder, and two strikers.

This formation is a bit risky and it is used for teams that prefer attacking or that need to score a lot of goals. If this formation is used against a strong and smart team it can leave your team exposed at the back.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best formation to win games in 5 a side football games?

Although there is no best formation the above formations can be used for different scenarios. Also through the course of the game, the whole team can shift and change formations which means that just because a team starts with one formation does not mean that they cannot use any other formation.

These are some of the best scenarios and basic essential tactics.

  • Diamond formation- balance of both the defense and offense and to dominate possession
  • Square formation- initiate attacks from the back to create scoring opportunities as well as to maintain possession of the ball
  • Pyramid formation- perfect formation for a team that likes to sit back, play the possession game, and regain possession of the ball.
  • Y formation: This formation is used if a team wants all the attacking players on top to score goals and also to play the high pressing game.

What are the main responsibilities of central midfielders in five a side soccer?

Main defensive responsibility:

Provide support for the defense, intercept passes, win headers, organize the team, communicate with everybody

Main attacking responsibility:

Create goal scoring opportunities, dribble past players, create plays, keep possession of the ball

What is the best soccer training program?

The best online soccer training program and soccer app is Football Entangled. There is no other program like Football Entangled on the market and this community, much more than just an app, will help you get closer to making your dreams a reality.

How can I learn more about the game?

To learn more about soccer the most important thing is to join a team and play the game as much as possible. If possible, analyze high level games as much as you can and your own games as well by recording them with a soccer camera. Also read soccer books, listen to podcasts, watch soccer documentaries, as well as some movies, tv shows, and anime.


In conclusion, the beautiful game has a lot of variations of five a side soccer and in this blog I covered the best formations that you can use for any variation.

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