Tactical Analysis: Fiorentina’s innovative 3-5-2 formation

Since Vincenzo Montella took the Tuscan outfit by storm in the summer of 2012, Fiorentina have  resurrected their old form in the Prandelli days.  To engineer that resurrection the Della Valle family(owners) invested heavily in the transfer maket  obtaining goalkeeper Emiliano Viviano, and a quartet of playmakers: Matías Fernández, Borja Valero, Alberto Aquilani, and David Pizarro.  Former Ajax forward Mounir El Hamdaoui and Colombian winger Juan Cuadraro have also been signed.

What has revolutionized the Viola though is their pivotal 3-5-2 formation (or 3-5-1-1, if you like) formation within one half of the pitch.


The Defence

The defence of this Fiorentina side is maybe the most important.  Despite Savic, Rodriguez, Roncaglia, and Tomovic being unknown players their defensive capabilities and tactical awareness at the back overcomes their unpopularity. When playing the 3-5-2 system one must think that defending counter attacks may be a problem. This is partially correct.Fiorentina switch to a 4-4-2 when defending.  When Cuadrado and Pasqual play the pivotal wing back position and move to high up there are times when the defense faces difficulties against the counter attack. Before Fiorentina start offensive play they look to verticality with the outside wing backs. While this same repetition happens to Barcelona when Jordi Alba and Dani Alves push to high up causing Pique and Mascherano to defend a counterattack. Rodriguez plays the sweeper at times and with the youthful reassurance of Savic and Roncaglia this allows Rodriguez to carry the ball and apply an attacking influence. Fiorentina have performed well this season, and their defensive trio have enjoyed successful campaigns. However, the three players don’t appear to offer a great balance, and certain systems can exploit this weakness with relative ease

The stats this defense has been acclaimed for has been in exceptional. They have conceded currently 43 goals.





The Midfield and the Forwards

Vincenzo Montella has finally found a clear path to orchestrate this five man midfield. The key of this quintet is by far the trio of Borja Valero, Claudio Pizarro and Romulo or Alberto Aquilani(Usually Romulo starts over  Aquilani). These three central midfielders make themselves available for short passes and start the offensive action. Romulo connects midfielders to forwards, Pizzarro and Borja Valero avoid defensive pressure, by interchanging their positions as a Regista. The Brazilian Romulo is an integral part of this system, resembling Ramires at Chelsea he offers a good level of pace, power and drive combined with the ability to score goals, and can win and dribble the ball. His positioning unlike Ramires is  better and receives many plaudits for this.

But the artist in this midfield has to be the renowned Borja Valero. Playing the deep-lying playmaker role is difficult enough but a team like this that is epitomized on the midfield role makes it even more difficult. His effort on the pitch is immense he attempts many  impossible balls, in fact, only  Andrea Pirlo has played more passes than Borja in the current campaign. With an 88% passing average he has created 72 of the 449 chances Fiorentina have created this season. Call him what you want  Inventor. Architect. A Da Vinci on the pitch, the only person who doesn’t agree with his current form is Vicente Del Bosque, choosing Javi Garcia over him in the Spanish national team.

But back to tactics:  Montella wants a fluid central midfield, so when Fiorentina’s offensive play begins you are never sure who plays as the deepest midfielder. This helps to confuse the man marking iniated by opponents to either mark Pizzaro or Valero. Barcelona at times play this type of football with the three central midifelders but wth Busquets as the cover and Xavi and Iniesta attack, but they aren’t committed as  Fiorentina when they commit all three central midfielders. The forwards in this tactical system begin making their diagonal runs at times Ljajic interchanging positions between the trequartista role as well as the second striker linking up play with Jovetic.




In conclusion, this system can work if you have smart footballers. Fiorentina’s success has been based on the verticality of the wing backs and their trio in the middle. This helps orchestrate an offensive to that produces goals. This complex system is only available if you players that have the ability to think tactically, Vincenzo Montella has instilled a discipline in this Fiorentina side and demonstrated a new style of football, one to be resounded through the next few years to come.

Posted in: Analysis, Italy

1 Comment on "Tactical Analysis: Fiorentina’s innovative 3-5-2 formation"

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  1. rigaud joseph says:

    Romulo starts only a few games. I am surprised you downplayed the role of Alberto Aquilani in the midfield. Romulo does not belong there.

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