It was a season that promised so much for Mateu Morey. After starring for Barcelona U19 for three years, and signing off with a youth league title, Morey was promoted to the Barcelona B side. But before Barcelona B boss Garcia Pimenta could give him his debut, Morey tore his meniscus in an August training session. He was to be out until late March of 2019, sitting on the sidelines for 7 months.
Sadly, only 11 days after returning from the injury that had ruined his season, he suffered a ruptured knee ligament. The 2018/19 season was over and one that the Spanish youngster would want to forget.
Seeking a fresh start, Mateu Morey switched La Liga for the Bundesliga and signed with Borussia Dortmund. This tactical analysis and scout report will focus on the Spanish right-back, and what he can bring to his new German employers.
In Barcelona U19’s 2018 Uefa Youth League game vs Chelsea, we can see how far forward Morey plays with this heat map. This Chelsea U19 side featured the likes of Reece James and Callum Hudson-Odoi. Barcelona convincingly won 3-0, Morey keeping Hudson-Odoi quiet all afternoon.
When at Barcelona U19, he was a key part of the way they attacked and in the first half in this game alone, he registered over 100 touches.
He pushes high, whether in possession or not, and, as you can see in the analysis below, takes up positions where we would traditionally see a right-winger or right-forward.
When in possession, Morey uses his considerable pace to break the lines. He works in tandem with his right-winger to create problems for the defence. When the right-winger is out wide, he often uses his dribbling to attack the vacant half-space. Morey scored a superb goal in the U17 World Cup vs France doing exactly this. He has an excellent 75.3% dribble success rate on an attempted 3.14 dribbles per game.
When his right-wing teammate plays closer to the forward, in the half-space, opposition left-backs face a conundrum. Do they stay close to the winger, and their own centre-back, or address the oncoming right-back?
Morey is a competent crosser of the ball, with a 40.8% completion rate, and will exploit any space surrendered to him. Alternatively, he is just as comfortable playing the ball in between the left-back and centre-back for the winger to run onto. This is an option he uses frequently and was how he registered one of his 3 assists against Manchester City U19 in a 2018 Uefa Youth League fixture.
The sheer attacking desire of the right-back is admirable and he creates many attacking opportunities.
Below we see a perfect example of this against England U17, in a phase of play that ends with Morey scoring. Cesar Gelabert has the ball in a position Morey would often take up. Rather than offer a short option, Morey reads where the ball is going to be played and makes a run behind the centre-forward. This kind of forward run isn’t typical of a right-back, even by today’s standard of attacking full-backs.
He wants to be involved in going forward as much as he can. Morey averages an assist every three games, and a goal every nine games; an excellent return for a right-back. He is always looking to play forward as often as possible, averaging six more forward passes a game, than back passes, and has a strong 84.5% pass completion rate.
As a defender, Morey is very solid, and his statistics back this up. He wins just under a quarter of his defensive duels, as well as making over four interceptions per game. In the 2017/18 season, he was part of a Barcelona U19 side that only conceded eight goals. It should be added that four of these goals were conceded in one game.
He is a combative player and works hard to win the ball back for the side. Morey recovers the ball 2.7 times per game in the opposition half. Also, despite being just 5”8, Morey wins 55.3% of his aerial duels.
As mentioned earlier, Morey is incredibly fast and is rarely beaten in a 1v1 situation. He is very effective at closing the opposing wingers’ space as they attempt to dribble past him.
Areas for improvement
However, the right-back is prone to lapses in concentration when defending, and when he is defending deep with less space behind him for him to use to recover, he has been caught out. Against Atletico Madrid U19 in the Copa Del Rey Juvenil final, Morey was caught flat-footed and ball-watching. Joaquin Muñoz snuck behind him after a one-two with Borja Garcés to score.
Like some defenders renowned for their pace, Morey uses his pace to atone for errors. If he makes mistakes far up the pitch, he is often able to get back quickly and recover. However, there is no room for errors when defending as deep as shown in the above tactical analysis.
How he fits in at Borussia Dortmund
Signing on a free transfer, Morey joins up with Spanish compatriots and ex-Barcelona players Paco Alcácer and Sergio Gómez. Alcácer had a very successful first season in the Bundesliga scoring 18 goals. Morey’s fellow La Masia graduate and teammate Sergio Gómez has been gaining experience in the Borussia Dortmund II side, as well as playing for the U19 team.
It looks unlikely that Morey will be put straight into the first team. Right-back is not a position where Dortmund are short of options, so much so that Felix Passlack has been loaned out once again.
Łukasz Piszczek is 34, however, and last season played in only 29 out of Dortmund’s total of 45 games. They have Achraf Hakimi as an option too. Hakimi had an excellent first season at Dortmund, as part of a 2-season loan from Real Madrid. He is versatile and split his game time between right-back and left-back last season. But as Dortmund have brought in Nico Schulz from Hoffenheim at left-back, it would suggest Dortmund Head Coach Lucien Favre isn’t convinced Real Madrid will let the wing-back stay beyond 2 years.
Once Morey has settled into his new life in Germany, he may well get his chance. There is a good chance of this happening once the season is well underway as Piszczek will need rotating to stay fresh.
Morey seems a perfect stylistic fit for Dortmund. Favre likes his full-backs to push high and his tactics suit players who possess pace and power.
Right now Morey is all potential. Having yet to play a senior game, and having come off a season on the sidelines, he is going to take time to find his feet. With Hakimi moving into the second year of his two-year-loan from Real Madrid and Piszczek coming toward the end of his career, Morey has likely been brought in as the long-term successor at right-back.
He has all the ingredients to be an excellent right-back and his attacking flair will excite the Dortmund fans in years to come. That and the fact he turned down Bayern München in 2017 should hold him in good stead with the Südtribüne.
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