Could Matias Be The Missing Link?
Marco Matias joined Sheffield Wednesday at the very beginning of the squad rebuild that took place in the summer of 2015. The season prior to him making the move to Sheffield he had managed to bag 21 goals in 42 outings in all competitions for C.D. Nacional playing as a winger. In the league he hit 17 goals in 33 games, making him the fourth highest scorer in Portugal`s top tier that campaign, ahead of the likes of Islam Slimani and Eder.
When he signed for Wednesday I felt that he would go on to be a key player for us. He`d excelled in Portugal and he had the attributes to not only help Wednesday be successful but to entertain us as fans with his direct style of play too. Although we saw glimpses of his abilities, especially with the cracking goal against Leeds United which was declared the best goal of the 15/16 campaign, injury setbacks proved costly and Matias was rarely seen on the pitch.
Fast forward to the present day and Marco is finally looking like he is ready to play a part in the first team once again after a nightmare period since late 2015. I feel from watching how Nacional played when Marco was there, that him being utilised wide of a four man midfield would make him largely ineffective for us, especially in the Championship. Under Carlos, this was often the way but for me Marco is much more effective further up the pitch, either as a wide player in a front three or even as a striker in a two.
As things stand, Jordan Rhodes is out of form and that`s disappointing. We all want the lad to succeed. In the short term Wednesday need to start scoring goals and with how we`re currently playing Marco could be the answer in my opinion. Under Jos we seem to be soaking up a lot of pressure, we`re building a solid defensive foundation and this is great for us. I feel because of that, at times we have become more of a counter attacking side, a team that looks to break quickly.
At Nacional this is very much how Marco was utilised as a player. Nacional hit teams on the counter. Marco`s pace and ability to carry the ball is something that I feel that Wednesday have missed for a long time, probably since Fernando Forestieri`s knee became an issue. Wednesday don`t have many players who can carry the ball at speed or with the pace and awareness to get in behind and stretch defences. I think Matias can add these abilities going forward.
What`s also telling is the on and off the pitch understanding that Marco Matias and Lucas Joao share. They played together at Nacional, often in tandem, with Marco the one tasked with creating the chances for Lucas at times. Away from the pitch, a quick glance on social media shows that they`re close friends and this understanding on the pitch may be of great benefit to us as we look to become a more potent force in front of goal.
We`ve looked solid at the back, at times I feel we have lacked the ability to keep hold of the ball in the middle of the park and you could say we have also lacked a bit of adventure too recently. Now that the defensive side of our game is looking sturdier than ever, with clean sheets being collected regularly, the onus is on those at the top of the pitch to deliver. We need to turn the one point into three.
If we`re going to persist with the three at the back set up, I do feel we could become a real force on the counter, especially with willing runners such as Liam Palmer, Adam Reach, Marco Matias and Lucas Joao available. If we could somehow keep Lucas in a more central position and have Marco buzzing around him, it could see a change in fortunes in front of goal.