5-a-side football is also known as futsal. It is a format of the historic game of football. The name already explains that 5-sided games consist of 5 players on both sides. On the other side, 11-sided games consist of 11 players on each side. All the professional leagues like Bundesliga, La Liga, or the Premier League play 11-sided football. However, there are professional 5-sided players as well and futsal is a separate sport. Both formats have their positives and negatives and this is what we are going to discuss in this article.
11-sided football and 5-a-side football differ in many ways. The first and the most obvious difference is the number of players on both sides. 11-sided football have 11 players against 11. On the other side, 5 players compete against each other in 5-a-side games. Therefore, players playing 11-sided football have more time to hold the ball. They also have more passing options. 11-a-side is normally played with composure and the games can be visually passive. However, 5-sided games are full of thrill and every player gets to participate a lot.
Another difference is the size of the pitch. 11-sided games are played on big fields and stadiums. Meanwhile, 5-sided games are either played indoors, or on courts or turfs. The beauty of 5-a-side games is that they can be played anywhere. This is also the reason why futsal is also known as street football. You do not need to have special arrangements to enjoy this format. You just need a ball and a few friends to have a good time. However, professional 5-a-side games are played on professional courts. Crowd is also allowed to come and see the games live.
Goal size is another major difference. 11-a-side games consist of bigger poles (or goal size) where as the size of the goal is not very big in 5 side. Therefore, keepers find it hard to play 11-sided games where as attackers consider scoring goals easier in 11-a-side. You have to be very accurate with your finishing if you want to become a regular goal scorer in 5-a-side games. A shot from far, no matter how powerful is usually very easy for the keepers to save with some exceptions.
We believe that the intensity of the game depends upon the kind of fixture. A friendly game no matter 11 or 5-sided is not going to be as intense as a semi-final in both formats. However, I think that 5-sided games are usually a bit more intense than 11-sided games. This is because the games end rather very quickly as compared to standard 90 minute 11 sided games. Furthermore, there are less number of players on the pitch. Therefore, it is not necessary that your fellow players can cover up your mistakes. A small bad touch can dispossess the team leading to an opposition goal.
11-sided games are played with a lot of composure and normally the calmest player plays the best. This also applies to 5-sided games, but every player has to remain on its toes all the time and run here and there. This does not usually happen in 11 sided games. 11-sided games are very position specific and every player works to fulfil their positional role. However, players play collectively in 5-sided games. They attack and defend together. The striker can drop down to defend and the defender can move up to attack.
Physical demand is very high for both formats. Senior experts in football say that you can never enjoy football if you are not fit enough. Fitness is a major part of the game and both formats demand their players to be superbly match fit. People generally think that since 11-sided games are played on a huge surface, therefore, it requires more fitness. This is not the case. You have to be as fit as 11-sided games in order to be good at 5-a-side games. There are a couple of reasons behind this.
One major reason is that you have to run up and down the pitch all the time during a 5 sided game. This is very demanding and can leave any unfit player breathless after a few sprints. Therefore, no team wants a player who gets tired minutes after the game has started. This specially applies to midfielders and strikers in 5-sided games. They have to drop down and move up the pitch multiple times during a 20-30 minute futsal game. Therefore, 5-a-side players work as much as 11-sided players on their fitness. Being very agile is also very important for both formats.
It is also much harder to develop 100% match fitness for 11-sided games than 5-sided games. It is true that both formats demand good level of fitness. However, people who are unfit also play futsal just because they want to enjoy the game. However, unfit players cannot enjoy 11-sided games because they are going to be out of breath in no time. 5-a-side games allow even not very fit people to enjoy the beautiful game. Not everyone wants to play the game competitively. Many people just want to enjoy it. 5-a-side is best for them.
Personally, I think that 5 sided games are more fun than 11-sided games. This is a personal opinion and can vary from person to person. I think 5-a-side games are more fun because they allow you to be more creative. 5-sided games are full of solo goals, skills and different fun plays. On the other side, 11-sided games are very tactical and solo plays are usually discouraged in that format. We do see jaw-dropping skills and solo goals in 11-sided games too.
5-a-side games do not last very long as well. Therefore, every player puts in their maximum effort right from the first minute. This rush of adrenaline cannot be described in words, but it feels great. Every player tries to be as responsible as they can be because a single mistake can lead to a goal. However, 11 sided games are very demanding in terms of physicality. Furthermore, they are very tactical based and players have to use their stamina responsibly. This is because the pitches are very big and it is not easy to run back and forth multiple times.
Involvement in the game is very much dependant on players themselves. However, 5-a-side games allow players to be more active during the matches. The average time any player spends on the ball during 90 minutes game is around 3-4 minutes or maximum 5. However, this is not the cases in 5 sided games. Every player enjoys a lot of time on the ball and the more agile you are, the more you are going to get the ball. This makes it even more fun and that is why many players enjoy playing this format of football.
More player involvement is also the reason why many football legends regard this format as key to improving the fundamental techniques of the game. Greatest players such as Ronaldinho, Neymar, Messi and even Ronaldo highly regard street football to improve their basics as they were getting older. We see this now a days that many professional player’s style reflects a lot of street football. Players such as Neymar and Mbappe have a typical futsal type of playing style and this justifies how much important this format of the game can be. 5-a-side games do not only help technically, but also mentally.
Players have to think and act fast just because of limited spaces on the futsal court. This greatly improves the reflexes, vision and decision making of the players. When such players go on to play 11 sided games, they are usually very comfortable. They do not find it hard to manoeuvre in tight spaces. Furthermore, they also display extraordinary vision. It all happens because they had already spent a lot of time playing on streets or courts. Hence, more involvement during the games. 11 a-side is a more position specific format. Players prefer playing with as much space as possible.
It is hard to comprehend which format is easier than the other. I think that it all comes down to personal preferences and how far do you want to go in the game. If you are someone who is trying to go pro then you must play both formats. However, if you are someone who just wants to have fun then 5-a-side is best for you. Difficulty also depends upon the pressure level every game brings. Therefore, concluding which one is harder depends upon the kind of fixture you have to play. At the end, it is football and football is a very beautiful game.