Should Chelsea utilise a 3-5-2 formation more often

Mourinho Dugout

Chelsea switched to a 3-5-2 midway through their Champions League tie with Maribor.

The Premier League side started the game in their usual 4-2-3-1 formation, with Didier Drobga leading the line in front of the attacking triumvirate of Eden Hazard, Willian and Andre Schurrle.

However, with the score at 0-0 at half-time, head coach Jose Mourinho brought on the attacking threat of Diego Costa, moving to a traditional 4-4-2 - with Costa and Drogba playing off one another in the final third.

The Blues dominated the game, but they fell behind to their Slovenian opponents, and, in the search for a valuable point, Mourinho opted to switch to a three-at-the-back formation, replacing left-back Filipe Luis with Ramires, who settled into midfield alongside Cesc Fabregas and Nemanja Matic, allowing Oscar and Hazard to support the striking partnership from wide positions. The formation change worked, with Maribor goalkeeper Jasmin Handanovic denying the Blues a number of strikes on goal, and the West Londoners could return to England with a point - having netted an equalising goal from a corner.

Hazard should have undeservedly won the game for Chelsea, but Handanovic was his equal when he saved an 85th minute penalty.

Whilst the result could be considered two points dropped for the Premier League side - who have real aspirations of winning the Champions League - Mourinho can take something positive from the game, knowing that his side can adapt to a different formation when needed.

It is unlikely to happen in the near future, but, if the Blues started a game in a 3-5-2, they are a scary proposition. A combined strike force of Diego Costa and one of Didier Drogba or Loic Remy offers a well-rounded goal threat, whilst a back three consisting of John Terry, Gary Cahill and Branislav Ivanovic would fulfil any duties needed, also allowing Ivanovic to revert to his original centre-half position.

The largest problem with playing three-at-the-back comes from the work put in by the wing-backs, who have to attack and defend otherwise the team risk giving up the flanks to their opposition. Oscar and Hazard ended the game on the wings, and the duo - especially the Brazilian - are two of the hardest working forwards in world football. Mourinho has taught the pair to track back, and, if he wanted either to move into the centre and act as nothing more than a playmaker, the ability to place Ramires, Willian or Schurrle on the wing - themselves very energetic defensive midfielders - means that the squad has remarkable strength in depth.

As mentioned previously, Mourinho is unlikely to utilise a 3-5-2 from the start of a Premier League fixture, but, with his squad proving that they can adapt to it when needed, the Portuguese coach has the perfect tactical change ready if searching for a goal in the final minutes of a game.

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