Any team's style of play needs to fit the personnel and formation. But a relatively new, unexplored tactical innovation arising out of the re-emerging rise of back-three formations is the concept of overlapping centre-backs. Teams like Sheffield United and Atalanta have achieved widescale success utilizing attack-minded centre-backs, who frequently find themselves in advantageous positions, attempting to join the attack and create chances for their teammates. By adopting this style of play, these teams create overloads in wide and/or central areas, and push more numbers into the box, where the delivery of crosses can be a great asset. On the surface, this may seem like a very simple approach. But the concept of overlapping centre-backs is far more complex than just the simple nature of a centre-back running around a wing-back. So let's get right into this Tactical Analysis all about Overlapping Centre-Backs.
Sheffield United have been the surprise package not only in the Premier League in 2019-20, but arguably anywhere in Europe's top five leagues. The recently promoted side went from 2nd place finishers in the 2018-19 EFL Championship to one of the most resilient Premier League sides in 2019-20, currently sitting in 7th place in the table with a game in hand. Chris Wilder meanwhile has gone from a manager virtually unknown, to one of the most celebrated in European football this year. His 3-5-2 system of play has been consistently one of the most well-set-up systems in the Premier League this season and every single player just seems to fit into it like a puzzle that has come together better than anyone could have dreamed of. Here is a tactical analysis of Chris Wilder's robust 3-5-2 formation and style of play with Sheffield United.