Scouting Report: Dória, Botafogo
Tuning into Saturday night's big Rio derby, Fluminense against Botafogo, I was surprised to see 17-year-old Dória start at the heart of the Botafogo defence for what was a huge game for both teams.
In football the positions where experience is considered most vital is normally in central defence and in goal. It's not unusual to see a young striker thrown into the first team because sometimes that inexperience can be a good thing, where the lack of fear, often coupled with youthful arrogance, can actually be a benefit.
But to trust a teenage defender, a position often driven by fear of conceding or making a mistake, is a huge vote of confidence for the player.
Dória was impressive throughout the game and showed confidence, maturity and composure amongst the far more experienced players on the pitch. Physically he is quite imposing with a broad, muscular physique and shaven head and, while he kept his passing simple, showed enough technical ability to take the ball short from the goalkeeper and build attacks from the back. Towards the end of the game he also took the initiative to break forward with the ball and look to force an equaliser.
For most of the game Fábio Ferreira and Dória handled the twin threat of Fred and Wellington Nem well, a fact that was made easier given Botafogo's domination of the early stages, when they could easily have gone into the lead.
The young centre back's performance was even more impressive given that he was often left horribly exposed by Botafogo left back, Márcio Azevedo, who spent the whole match doing his best Roberto Carlos impression, often to little effect.
And it was from this that Fluminense got the game’s only goal, with Nem exposing the empty space behind the left back and running into the box before squaring for Fred to slot the ball home.
Dória seems to be an ambitious guy, with aims to play for Seleção someday, but understands that he has a long way to go before he's anywhere near the level of the likes of Thiago Silva or Dede, two players he admires.
Full name: Matheus Dória Macedo
Born: São Gonçalo (RJ)
Position: Central Defender
Height: 6ft 2
Weight: 12st 9lb