Continuing its hot form PSV won another match on Eredivisie. This time visiting Zwolle, the Eindhoven club did not give the home team a chance and reached the top of the league by a 3-0 defeat.

In this tactical analysis, we’ll see how PSV build their victory earlier in the match. On his debut, former Bundesliga player Mario Götze scored his first goal in Eredivisie. We’ll also check the tactics that reinforce the good performance of Roger Schmidt’s team.

Lineups and formations

Eredivisie 20/21: Zwolle vs PSV - tactical analysis tactics

The manager John Stegeman positioned Zwolle’s players in its traditional formation of a 4-2-3-1 with Yuta Nakayama centralizing all movements in the offence construction while covering the defence. The wingers Immanuel Pherai and Clint Lemans were options to run behind PSV’s defence.

PSV’s starting eleven wasn’t counting with Jordan Teze in the defence and Eran Zahavi on the attack. They both were tested positive with Covid-19. The manager replaced them with Timo Baumgartl pairing with Olivier Boscagli in the defence while Götze made his debut in the attack. Another newly signed made his first appearance: Ibrahim Sangaré. The midfielder paired with Pablo Rosario in the 4-2-3-1 formation that varies to 4-4-2.

Building the victory

Again PSV played a very dangerous tactical choice. Early in the match the team scored the first and second goal and lost intensity after that. Baumgartl even committed a penalty that Zwolle’s Ghoochannejhad missed. That could have complicated the match.

But Schmidt’s choices to pressure the opponent and quickly build the attack is resulting in PSV’s favour. After the first goal, PSV continued to pressure the opponent’s defence on their own defensive third. The image below shows six players of PSV closing the space and not letting Zwolle leave the defence. The ball is retrieved and the goal scored.

Eredivisie 20/21: Zwolle vs PSV - tactical analysis tactics

The first half was quite intense for PSV. The PPDA pressing rate was 6.6 against 8.2 in the second half. Goalkeeper Mvogo gave seven passes beyond his own third in the first half against two on the second half. The players were more advanced earlier in the match.

Pressuring in the midfield and retrieving the ball to attack quickly was the cause of the third goal. The image below shows Cody Gakpo advancing while only three defenders of Zwolle in a position to block the shot. With Zwolle’s defensive transition delayed, Donyell Malen is free to receive and conclude on goal with perfection.

Eredivisie 20/21: Zwolle vs PSV - tactical analysis tactics

With the score in favour, PSV didn’t force to have the ball all the time. The team ended with 47% of ball possession with only 55% of the possession reaching the opponent’s half. They shot on goal less than Zwolle (10 against 12)  and they had less xG (2.10 against 2.14) than their opponent.

The 3-0 winning in the first half was definitive.

Debut of Götze and Sangaré

The match was also important for PSV to see the debuts of the midfielder Sangaré and former Borussia Dortmund player Götze.

Sangaré replaced Ryan Thomas in the midfield side by side with Rosario. The 22 years old player had 68% of successful actions and gave one shot on goal. He recovered 12 balls being the number eight in the opponent’s half. Since he’s a strong and faster player than Thomas, Schmidt used him to protect the defence and put pressure on the opponent when the ball was lost.

Releasing Rosário to be more dynamic on the pitch, Sangaré was more protective and was covering all spaces in the midfield. The heatmap below shows his average positioning and intensity.

Eredivisie 20/21: Zwolle vs PSV - tactical analysis tactics

Götze clearly had different tactics from his good old days of Bundesliga. Schmidt gave freedom to the player fluctuate in the attack zone. Sometimes pairing with Malen in the middle of the attack of the 4-4-2 formation. Other times fluctuating as an advanced midfielder on the side of the pitch. His heatmap below shows his intensity on the centre-attack and on the right side where he used to play more.

Eredivisie 20/21: Zwolle vs PSV - tactical analysis tactics

With slow defenders, Sangaré can provide solid protection in the middle. And with a quick attack, the talent of Götze can be influential to convert into goals the rapid movements on the offensive third. In the image below, we see Sangaré retrieving the ball in the middle and passing to Götze. The read of the play was crucial to the player to be an option of passing in the free space.

Eredivisie 20/21: Zwolle vs PSV - tactical analysis tactics

With both players in the pitch, manager Schmidt has options of more experience in the attack and solid defensive movements in the midfield. 

Zwolle’s offence and defence 

The manager Stegeman try to develop an offensive construction with the ball on the ground as a trap. Certainly, he asked the team to exchange short passes while attracting PSV’s attention to give the long ball behind the defence. Especially on the right side on the back of Denzel Dumfries.

Every time the team has the ball in the defence zone, the ball was rotating to the side of the pitch and the wingers were running behind the side-backs of PSV. In the image below we notice PSV’s defence completely out of place. Zwolle triangulated short passes with accuracy and eventually found the space behind PSV’s right-back with plenty of pitch to progress.

Eredivisie 20/21: Zwolle vs PSV - tactical analysis tactics

The tactic choose was clearly working when Zwolle had 38% on the right flank attacks. The progressive passes accuracy was not that precise, only 65% but it causes discomfort on PSV’s defence. Especially with Baumgartl. The defender wasn’t playing much but the absence of Teze made him appear on the team.

In the image below, Zwolle’s Pherai receives the long pass behind the right-back and Baumgartl had to cover facing the attacker’s opponent on 1-vs.-1 confrontation. With PSV’s defensive transition running back, the quickly attacking from Zwolle ended up in a shot on goal.

Eredivisie 20/21: Zwolle vs PSV - tactical analysis tactics

But what was supposed to be an intelligent way of creating chances, also provide the weakness of the team. Zwolle made many mistakes in its own defensive third and conceded two goals for PSV on wrong passes in the backline.

The first goal was a wrong pass from the centre-back to the goalkeeper that Götze intercepted in the penalty area. The second goal was a wrong pass in the midfield where Gapko intercepted the ball with space to progress.

In the image below we see Mauro Junior receiving the ball from Gapko while he is running towards inside the area. Malen is free to receive and Phillipe Max has plenty of space to progress on the left side with no defender running with him. The ball passes to both until is crossed to Gapko conclude on goal inside the area.

Eredivisie 20/21: Zwolle vs PSV - tactical analysis tactics

The team made 424 passes with only 79% accurate. There was only 58% of accurate passes to the final third and the team made only seven shots on goal of the 31 attacks.

The lack of technical quality and the pressure that PSV made on the offensive zone cause Zwolle to rush the pass when wasn’t needed. In the first half was fatal to give the goals to PSV control the match to its full time.


The tactics that we saw in Zwolle make it possible to believe the team has a place on Eredivisie next season. But the struggle against the big clubs can’t be a deception. In this match analysis, we pointed out that the fragile passes on the defence can be a huge issue and the manager needs to work on that.

With another secure winning, PSV is showing conditions of dethroning Ajax on the Eredivisie this season. The manager Schmidt applied a very consistent tactical variation that is giving the results. With the new players that arrived the squad is experienced to achieve higher objectives.