Friendly 2020/21: Hertha Berlin vs PSV – Tactical analysis

Friendly 20/21: Hertha vs PSV - Tactical analysis tactics

Last Saturday, PSV went to Berlin to face Hertha Berlin in a friendly match. PSV took the chance to debut their newly signed goalkeeper Yvon Mvogo and ended up winning the match by 4-0.

In this tactical analysis, I will present how PSV is getting ready for the Eredivisie’s next season. I’ll bring further insight into how the team is preparing their strategies and movements on the pitch to start Eredivisie next season.

Line-ups and formations

Friendly 20/21: Hertha vs PSV - Tactical analysis tactics

Hertha started the match in a 4-2-3-1 formation with R. Jarstein in the goal, D. Zeefuik, K. Rekik, J. Torunarigha and M. Mittelstädt in the defence line. N. Stark, L. Tousart, V. Darida, K. Piatek and Matheus Cunha in the middle with D. Lukebakio in the attack.

PSV went full squad in an initial 4-4-2 formation with the debut of Y. Mvogo in the goal, Jorrit Hendrix, Jordan Teze, O. Boscagli and Mauro Junior in the defence. Ihattaren, P. Rosario, R. Thomas and Bruma in the middle line. C. Gakpo and Donyell Malen in the attack.

The new PSV manager Roger Schmidt made a few changes in the player’s positions to run tests on the performance of his team. He was hired after the last season was cancelled due to the coronavirus outbreak to replace the interim Ernest Faber that ended the season better than his predecessor Van Bommel who was fired in December last year.

Even with the players originally in different positions such as Jorrit Hendrix as the right-back, their movements on the pitch shows the managers thinking of aggressiveness and pressure on the opponent to quickly build the play towards the goal.

High-pressure pros and cons

The characteristic of Roger Schmidt teams is to pressure the opponent in its defensive zone and we can see that he is training PSV to do that. In the image below, we see a frame of one of the multiple times PSV players went on high line pressuring to try to retrieve the ball.

We can see that every opponent has one PSV player tightening the space. Bruma is closest to the ball and engaged to retrieve while Malen is more behind trying to close the goalkeeper option pass.

Friendly 20/21: Hertha vs PSV - Tactical analysis tactics

But the movements of this high pressure must be precise to prevent the opponent to quickly find a way out and run for the counter-attack. In the image above we can see the pressure but Hertha found the way to get out of the tough situation. And when PSV’s line was so high the space in the defence was all open.

In the image below we see the sequence of the play after Hertha’s defence made the way in the middle. The aerial long pass found the right-winger opened with a free space in front of him.

Friendly 20/21: Hertha vs PSV - Tactical analysis tactics

Another issue faced in this particular match with the defence line was the missing of the right-back Denzel Dumfries. The manager chose to replace him by Jorrit Hendrix (#8) in an improvisation. We can see in the image below that the player was more a right midfielder than a right-back.

Friendly 20/21: Hertha vs PSV - Tactical analysis tactics

Jordan Teze plays in both right-back and centre back positions so the manager positioned him to cover Hendrix advancing movements. But with the team pressuring higher Hertha exploited a few gaps over there.

In the image below we see Hendrix in the middle line not pressuring the opponent letting Teze cover him in the right back. Boscagli centralised to mark the opponent’s centre forward while Mauro Junior covered the left side but not so much.

Friendly 20/21: Hertha vs PSV - Tactical analysis tactics

Clearly Hertha’s forward took advantage of the space left to receive the ball inside the area behind Mauro Junior. The movement of the defender was to centralize along Boscagli. Bruma was supposed to return to close the four-line defence but that didn’t happen and the Bundesliga side almost scored a goal.

But the high pressure went in favour of PSV’s attack. We can see in the image below a duel in the middle where there were five players of PSV against two players of Hertha. Ihattaren fought for the ball and retrieved it. Then Rosario makes a vertical long pass to Malen who makes a run and shoots to score the first goal of the match.

Friendly 20/21: Hertha vs PSV - Tactical analysis tactics

Malen the middle man

One of the things the manager Roger Schmidt didn’t change is the way Donyell Malen moves on the pitch. The talented forward had his name speculated in Arsenal earlier this year but we expect to see more of his goals on the Eredivisie for another season.

The player usually anticipates the offensive transition. He uses his good view of the game to search for open space in the midfield between the defensive lines. In the image below we can see how he returns to his own defensive zone, receives the ball and clear space in the middle moving forward.

Friendly 20/21: Hertha vs PSV - Tactical analysis tactics

Even when he had some pressuring from the opponent he managed to prevent the tackle and build the offensive transition. In another frame, we can see how he searches for the open space between the defence lines with plenty of field to play.

Friendly 20/21: Hertha vs PSV - Tactical analysis tactics

In the image above he is asking for the ball after a run back to the free space left by the opponent’s midfielders. When he receives the ball he has a full frontal view of his teammates to continue. In the statistical of his last season, we noticed how strong is his positioning is in midfield. Looking at the heatmap below we also see he had strong movements for all the attacking zones.

Friendly 20/21: Hertha vs PSV - Tactical analysis tactics

Of course, his actions on the midfield is important to build the offensive movements from the team. But when he reads the game in the attacking zone is definitely crucial. In the image below we can see that he takes position exactly in the gap left by the bad formation of the opponent’s defence.

Friendly 20/21: Hertha vs PSV - Tactical analysis tactics

The combination of aggressive pressuring and right positioning is a match. The image above shows the exact moment when Erick Gutierrez and Jorrit Hendrix retrieved the ball after pressuring the opponent. Malen is well-positioned where there’s no defender and ready to receive the ball towards the goal.

The reading of the game is absolutely important to the execution of the strategy. And when everyone involved takes the right action it’s inevitable to create chances. That one ended in the third goal of PSV that afternoon.


We were able to see in this analysis that PSV’s manager Roger Schmidt is improving the team performance using a combination of pressuring the opponent to build attacks quickly. The talent of Malen and his vision and technical qualities are a plus to the strategy.

Hertha Berlin wasn’t strong enough to bypass PSV’s defence but the team presented a few gaps in the alignment especially with the absence of Denzel Dumfries. It’s expected to the manager fix that when the squad will be fully complete at the start of the season.

With the international break ahead the players that won’t play for the national team will have a rest before the beginning of Eredivisie on 13 of September. PSV will start away against Groningen and will face former Bayern Munich star Arjen Robben again after several years.