Brazilian defender Doria finally settling in at Marseille

PARIS: For Brazilian defender Doria, life in Marseille has never been so simple.

Following two tumultuous seasons marred by disputes with coaches and unsuccessful loans abroad, the 21-year-old center back is finally settling in well with the nine-time French champions.

Back in France after a disappointing experience at Granada, Doria has played three league matches this season with the southern club, more than he did during the past two seasons.

"I tend to think that I was not ready," the former Botafogo player said about his past struggles in an interview with L'Equipe newspaper ahead of Sunday's league match at Nice. "In Brazil I was playing all the time, I had the confidence of the players and staff. When I arrived in Europe, I had to start from scratch. Now that I got used to it, I want to show my qualities."

Two years ago, Doria arrived in Marseille with a strong reputation and high ambitions after signing for a reported 7 million euros ($7.9 million) fee. But he was not part of then-coach Marcelo Bielsa's plans and was sent on loan to Sao Paulo.

Bielsa's departure the next year did not improve Doria's situation at the club, though, as he was loaned to Granada with an option to make the move permanent.

"I've always respected the coach's decision, this is part of my upbringing," Doria said, recalling his bitter relationship with Bielsa. "My answer to this situation has been hard work and people at the club saw that I was determined. Some other players would have insulted the coach. Not me."

Things have changed significantly as Doria found a new ally at the club in Franck Passi, the interim coach that was appointed after Bielsa's successor Michel was fired. Passi is expected to remain in charge for the whole season.

"You can tell (Passi) is a former player, he understands how we feel and knows how to speak to us," said Doria, whose goal is to help Marseille secure a top-four finish. "He is a good coach for Marseille."

Doria made his league debut this season in a 0-0 draw with Toulouse at the Stade Velodrome and his good performance convinced Passi to keep him in his starting lineup for the next two games. The Brazilian, renowned for his speed and ball-playing qualities, has started to develop an interesting partnership with Slovakian recruit Tomas Hubocan in the heart of the Marseille back four.

"We understand each other well and we can make a good job together," Doria said. "He is a responsible and hard-working lad."