Although Frank De Boer had so far used the 1-4-2-3-1 formation (due to the high positions of the wingers and the compact center of the field in the attack looks like the classic Dutch 1-4-3-3), he was increasingly striving for the shape 1-5-3-2.
The 1-5-3-2 shape describes this team better when they don’t have the ball and it looks more and more like 1-3-5-2 building their attacks. In this phase two wing-backs are the most important. They are the only ones that ensure the width of the game, while the attackers often descending to the sides only free space for aggressive entrances into the penalty area from the center of the field.
They defend quite deep with lines close together protecting their own half, but is physically demanding especially for strikers and midfielders who provide pressing and zone coverage.
In the first phase of the attack the deepest midfielder has the task of transporting the ball as quickly as possible to the three highly positioned offensive players (usually 2 forwards and the classic offensive 10).
They have to feel well with small combination play and keep possession under pressure, which is key to gaining an advantage in the offensive third through player mobility, numerous changes in attack direction and passing speed.
The main advantage of 1-5-3-2 is that it allows them to play with a tight formation difficult to penetrate by an opponent. The Dutch move unpredictably in possession and are less prone to counterattacks after losing the ball.