Matheus Reis is a Brazilian left-back currently playing for Rio Ave. In 2018 the Brazilian was transferred to the Liga NOS club from São Paulo. In the current season, he is proving to be indisputable to the former EPL coach Carlos Carvalhal. Undoubtedly because he is providing on the field. Defensive wise he has delivered frequent solid performances and his offensive mindset pushes the team forward.

Due to this regularity, the media placed Reis in the front seat to replace Alex Telles who is presumably trading FC Porto for Chelsea. However, if this transfer takes place, Reis is inheriting a very difficult job. Without a doubt, Telles is crucial in FC Porto’s tactics with almost 200 games for the club and 24 goals and 61 assists. Could Reis be a good replacement? Does he have what it takes to play at UEFA Champions League level?

Throughout this scout report and tactical analysis, I will describe Reis strengths, weaknesses and role in Rio Ave’s tactics. Additionally, in this analysis, I will compare Reis to other left-backs in Liga NOS including Alex Telles.

Overview

Reis has a strong figure and he uses his body well to aid in his defensive/offensive tasks. The left-back is comfortable in physical duels and has a reasonable pace for all distances. Additionally, the Brazilian has acceptable coordination and agility.

Mentally, Reis is a positively aggressive player with a good rate of individual and collective work. Additionally, he is usually focused and reads the game well and he is able to anticipate the opponent’s plays.

So far this season, Carlos Carvalhal tried many tactics with Rio Ave FC. In fact, Rio Ave commonly changed their formation depending on their opponents. Consequently, these formation changes translated into changes in Reis’ role in the team.

Matheus Reis 2019/20 - Scout Report – tactical analysis tactics
Reis heatmap and positions.

When the team played in their most-used system 4-4-2 or even in 4-2-3-1 Reis played as left-back. These formations allow Reis to have more freedom to go up the pitch with and without the ball aiding the attack.

On the other hand, when the team adopted formations with three or five defenders Reis played in the left centre back position. As a result, Reis in these games has a more defensive role not allowing to go forwards as much.

Positioning

Offensively, Reis is a player that positions himself as high as possible. The left-backs offensive positioning allows the winger on his side to make diagonal moves to the middle. Because of this, the opponents’ right-back usually have to guard two opponents with a good amount of space between them. Apart from this, this positioning also creates superiority in the middle of the pitch.

Matheus Reis 2019/20 - Scout Report – tactical analysis tactics
Reis goes forward on the flank while the winger on his side makes an interior move. Reis gets the ball in a privileged position to go for a cross.

Although in general, he has good defensive positioning, due to his attacking mindset he is often caught in situations where he is misplaced. However, Reis is able to fix these situations with good defensive transitions. The Brazilian’s reaction to the ball loss, pace and aggressiveness help him to recover his position. This kind of situation is demonstrated in the image below.

Matheus Reis 2019/20 - Scout Report – tactical analysis tactics
Reis moves up the field but a teammate loses the ball catching him out of position. Due to a good defensive transition, Reis quickly recovers his position and the ball.

Defensive contribution

In general, defensive-wise Reis is not an easy player to beat. It’s not fair to say that he excels in every defensive action but he is a solid defender. As said before, Reis likes to use his physique to his advantage in defending situations.

His physical skills help him being successful in his different disputes with his opponents. In addition to this, the Brazilian’s pace, concentration and anticipation make him good in situations such as covering depth. The Brazilian likes to position himself on the offside line with his body facing the opponent likely to receive the pass. When the ball starts to travel from foot to foot Reis starts his run and gets to the ball before the opponent. Many times he also puts his body between the ball and the receiver shielding the ball from the opponent. Overall, the Brazilian’s success rate in all duels is 58%.

Furthermore, Reis has a reasonably good jump and his height helps him to succeed in aerial duels. His aerial success rate is 56,3%.

Due to his regular levels of concentration and tackling timings he usually overcomes opponents in 1vs1 situations. In fact, Reis has an average of 9.05 recoveries per game. When he faces 1vs2 marking situations Reis usually shows good understanding. Usually, Reis moves into a position where he can face both opponents. Then the Brazilian positions himself in order to be able to anticipate the play before the pass get’s completed. The image below shows an example of this kind of these anticipations.

Matheus Reis 2019/20 - Scout Report – tactical analysis tactics
Reis controls both players and when the pass is made he quickly anticipates his opponent.

In fact, his game reading skills turn him into one of the left-backs with more interceptions per game in Liga NOS. The chart below compares interceptions per game among Liga NOS left-backs with at least 15 games this year.

Matheus Reis 2019/20 - Scout Report – tactical analysis tactics
Interceptions per 90min comparison between Liga NOS left-backs with at least 15 games played.

Ball Progression

Reis is a full-back that offers width and depth to his team with his will to attack. This attacking mentality is clearly shown both with and without the ball. Usually, the Brazilian chooses the right timing and situations to start his runs. Therefore when he has space Reis pushes his team forward by carrying the team forward with progressive runs. The left-back doesn’t only dribble down the flank, he likes to explore the inside channel also.

Matheus Reis 2019/20 - Scout Report – tactical analysis tactics
Reis intercepts the ball and dribbles trough 4 opponents. Then he gets himself into an optimal position to assist a teammate.

Additionally, Reis is also good in dribbling through opponents even in shorter spaces. Although this Brazilian it’s not a “magician” he can surpass his opponents with quick changes of direction. Reis has a dribbling success rate of 67%. This efficiency puts him in a top position compared with other Liga NOS left-backs. As can be seen below, Reis is in the top three of the dribbling success among left-backs.

Matheus Reis 2019/20 - Scout Report – tactical analysis tactics
Dribbling success rate comparison between Liga NOS left-backs with at least 10 games played.

Another crucial aspect of Reis’ dribbling skills is his ability to shield the ball from the opponents. The left-back protects the ball with his body and makes it no easy task to steal the ball from him. This good usage of his physique may be one of the reasons for his efficiency in offensive duels. Reis has a success rate of almost 56% in offensive duels. The chart below compares him to other left-backs of the Portuguese league, demonstrating that he is one of the top performers in terms of offensive duels.

Matheus Reis 2019/20 - Scout Report – tactical analysis tactics
Offensive duels success rate comparison between Liga NOS left-backs with at least 15 games played.

Varied passing ability

When in possession of the ball Reis is always composed. When in offensive transitions Reis decides well and usually plays it safe to a teammate positioned in a pressure-free zone. Additionally, the Brazilian is capable of doing simple passes with his weaker foot. This quality increases his passing options.

Reis is capable of executing a different variety of passes throughout the game. Clearly, his signature move is one-two combinations with midfielders or the wingers on his side. He takes advantage of his speed and strength to launch attacks on the wing.

Taking a look at Reis’ passing success rate we can see that he is efficient. The Brazilian completes 83.25% of the overall passes he tries. His forward passes success rate is also good and one of the best among the Liga NOS left-backs.

Matheus Reis 2019/20 - Scout Report – tactical analysis tactics
Forward passes success rate comparison between Liga NOS left-backs with at least 15 games played.

In fact, Rio Ave likes to explore in behind the opponent’s backline and Reis is capable of doing those passes. The Brazilian places accurate curved passes that are almost anticipated crosses. In the image below we can see an example of those plays.

Matheus Reis 2019/20 - Scout Report – tactical analysis tactics
Reis makes a medium-high curved pass to the back of the defensive line finding a teammate unfortunately offside. The Brazilian frequently tries these types of passes.

Additionally, Reis reaches the final line many times but his crosses success rate still has space to improve. The Brazilian only finds his teammates in 25% of his crosses. On this chapter, Reis is a bit behind the FC Porto’s king of assists. Telles tries the double the number of crosses and completes more than 30% of them.

Conclusion

To sum up, Reis is a solid defender and reasonably good attacker which makes him suitable for attack-oriented teams. His ability to dribble and to make combinations with his teammates can generate many dangerous attacks. Nevertheless, Reis needs to improve in getting assists to his name.

Currently, in the last year of his contract with Rio Ave, Reis is probably going to be sold in the next transfer window. The left-back shows qualities to play in a bigger team whether it is in Portugal or in a better league. However, the big question is: is he capable of doing Alex Telles’ role at FC Porto? Telles is involved in many of FC Porto’s goals and Reis still doesn’t achieve these numbers. Nevertheless, playing in a bigger team could improve his game and make those numbers appear.

Martim Gomes
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