Eredivisie 2018/19 Tactical Analysis: Hirving Lozano at PSV

Hirving Lozano came under the radar during last year’s World Cup, showing some great performances for his country, Mexico. He has been quite consistent when performing for his club PSV Eindhoven too, becoming an Eredivisie champion in the 2017/18 season under ex-coach Phillip Cocu.

Although he had to switch from left to right and fit a different strategy, Lozano was a key figure for the team under Mark van Bommel too, scoring 21 goals and assisting 12 in all competitions. His impact on PSV’s game is pretty noticeable as he has helped in shaping their style of play and them competing for the top spot again.

There is quite a lot of speculation about his future, but yet the most intriguing one seems to be Manchester United‘s interest in him.

Manchester United had a boost in their performance once Ole Gunnar Solskjær got the managerial job, but there was a huge downfall in their performance as they finished sixth in the Premier League barely securing a Europa League spot next season. There are some quite obvious things United need to work on, but is Lozano one of the solutions?

In this tactical analysis we will explain how he could fit the current United team:

Where he’d be most useful at?

It is difficult to predict if Manchester United are going to stick to fewer formations and which one would be most beneficial if Lozano joins, but yet we could explain how he could compliment his future teammates’ performance.

He had two completely different seasons in Eindhoven. Cocu mostly used him as a left attacking midfielder and left wing, but sometimes he would start on the tip of the attack, converting into a winger in later stages of the game.

Mark van Bommel saw him as a potential fit for the other flank and if we have to sum up he had two positions for him. He used him as a right attacking midfielder in his most common 4-2-3-1 formation, and as a right wing with even more attacking responsibilities in a 4-2-1-3.

Eredivisie 2018/19 Tactical Analysis: Hirving Lozano at PSV
Hirving Lozano’s 2018/19 heatmap.

It’s fair to say that he has been equally useful on both flanks due to his natural attacking flair and strong crossing abilities. It seems like in United’s squad, the competition for the left spot would be less fierce but wherever he would be positioned there are a few abilities that make him a perfect fit for the team.

His connection with the full-backs/wing-backs could be impressive if used smartly. Having in mind that Ashley Young dives into attacking venture quite often Lozano could be the perfect partner on the right. It is quite obvious that he could add value to the team’s performance by simply distributing the ball in the final third and sending perfect crosses.

But what could be crucial for the team is that he tends to cut inside occasionally and the results are impressive. Using Young for delivering the ball and stretching the opponents’ defence, while Lozano cuts inside to exploit the opened spaces could be dangerous. Not only because of his shooting abilities, but also because this would give more freedom for, let’s say, Jesse Lingard and Markus Rashford to sneak behind defenders’ backs and still have someone to deliver the ball. Especially if Paul Pogba heads to another team. Which makes Lozano an option for the left flank too and opens up a spot for Mason Greenwood who is most likely to be used as a right-wing/right attacking midfielder.

Eredivisie 2018/19 Tactical Analysis: Hirving Lozano at PSV
Lozano’s pass map against VVV. Proof of his tendency to cut inside. The purple arrows show his key passes in the game.

Set-piece cannon

The Red Devils have quite a few set-piece takers – Pogba is mostly responsible for the penalty kicks, Rashford/Pogba for the direct free-kicks and Young/Shaw for the corners. Lozano could be their new set-piece weapon, as he was the main set-piece taker for PSV throughout the season. He takes responsibility for every spot. Using the Mexican for this purpose and having Rashford or Pogba in the box using their height for a better purpose could be a benefit.

Additional value

Counter-attacks

Manchester United have scored not that many goals on a counter. That’s another direction Lozano could be used at. His pace and positioning could be crucial when counter-attacking.

Eredivisie 2018/19 Tactical Analysis: Hirving Lozano at PSV
He would use his pace to distribute the ball in more advanced areas (no matter if on the flank or through the middle).
Eredivisie 2018/19 Tactical Analysis: Hirving Lozano at PSV
Even though his shot accuracy is quite good, he could make the right decisions and assist his teammates when an opportunity comes.

Dribbling

The United target tends to dribble a lot and that is a pinpoint in his performance. He completes eight dribbles per 90 minutes with a 73% success.

For comparison, Rashford completes 5.83 dribbles with 60.4% success, Lingard goes for only 2.37 with 55.7% and Pogba dribbles 5.04 times per game with 73.9% success.

Lozano’s skills on the ball could be of help both in the build-up and when trying to gain back the possession.

Eredivisie 2018/19 Tactical Analysis: Hirving Lozano at PSV
He is very attack-minded. Right after a defensive duel and gaining back the possession in the opposition’s half, he seeks an option for a through ball.
Eredivisie 2018/19 Tactical Analysis: Hirving Lozano at PSV
Lozano drags the defenders and waits for Bergwijn to sneak behind their backs, then sends a smart pass to the uncovered area and starts his off the ball movement towards the box. He and Bergwijn would often switch positions.

Creativity and vision

Switching positions and flanks could add value to the teams’ performance and often catch their opponents off guard. He occasionally has sparks of creativity and tries to find an offbeat way to exploit certain spaces. Having the eye for a nice through ball could compliment United’s attacking players’ actions and create a lot of opportunities for the team.

Eredivisie 2018/19 Tactical Analysis: Hirving Lozano at PSV
He often stretches the defence and opens the half-spaces. In this case, there were none of his teammates to exploit that space so he took control, dribbled past his opponents, cut inside and eventually scored.
Eredivisie 2018/19 Tactical Analysis: Hirving Lozano at PSV
This situation is also proof of his strong decision-making and work under pressure.

Defensive contribution

His defensive contribution is something he could work on. Or to his defensive efficiency particularly. Although he manages to make 3.56 recoveries per 90 minutes with 77.6% of them being made in the opposition’s half. This is beneficial for both attack and defence as he tends to stop the opponents from counter-attacking but also gains back the possession and creates opportunities in the final third.

Conclusion

Hirving Lozano might not be the most urgent transfer needed at Old Trafford but he could definitely be a valuable one. Being an option for different positions and having a complex of skills to support a team’s attacking ventures sounds like worth trying. Especially if United take care of their defensive instability and achieve a balance between the lines.


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